WASHINGTON - Police arrested more than 100 women who protested Thursday outside the U.S. Capitol and demanded that Congress move forward on immigration legislation.
Immigration has been a rare area of bipartisan co-operation and confidence was high earlier in the year on a sweeping overhaul of the system and a path to citizenship for millions. But the crisis over Syria has taken the attention of lawmakers and the Obama administration.
The women, wearing T-shirts stating "Women for Fair Immigration Reform," joined hands and sat in a circle on an avenue near the Capitol. They chanted slogans as police handcuffed them and loaded them into vans.
U.S. Capitol Police didn't have immediate information on what the women were being charged with.
Organizers said some two dozen of the women are in the U.S. illegally.
Lawmakers returned to Washington this week after a five-week summer recess with no clear way forward on immigration.
One participant in the protest, Maria Galban of Los Angeles, who said she is a Mexican citizen in the U.S. illegally, said she wanted to send a message to Congress that immigration reform is needed to keep families like hers together. She said she and her husband are here illegally but their two daughters have gained legal status under a program by President Barack Obama to stop deportations of immigrants brought to the U.S. as youths.
"We need immigration reform. We want to contribute economically to this country," said Galban, 43, who said she can't get the license she needs to work as a hairdresser because she doesn't have legal status.
Organizers with the group We Belong Together and other organizations said the protest was meant to spotlight the impact of the nation's faulty immigration system on women and families.
"They should show the same courage as these women," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who was among those arrested.
Associated Press writer Erica Werner contributed.
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