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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal arrested during immigration protest in U.S. Senate building

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal said she was the only person many of the women, asylum seekers currently imprisoned in SeaTac, had seen. A few had also seen attorneys. Unless they ask for an attorney, Jayapal said, they don't get one.
Daniel Berman for KUOW
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal outside the SeaTac Federal Detention Center, where a group of asylum seekers are currently held.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) was arrested on Thursday during an immigration protest held on the floor of a Senate office building in Washington, D.C. 

About 575 people, mostly women, were charged with demonstrating unlawfully. They were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police on charges of "crowdinig, obstructing, or incommoding." They were processed and being released, according to Capitol Police, a D.C. agency.

The protest, organized by the Women's March and the Center for Popular Democracy, mobilized to speak out against the "inhumane and cruel" zero-tolerance policy of the Trump administration that has led to family separation and children in cages, Jayapal said.

"I'm proud to have been arrested with them," Jayapal said in a Twitter video after her arrest. "To put myself in the camp of people who believe that the United States of America is better. And as a member of Congress, I refuse to let this president and this administration do what they are doing to children, to parents, to asylum seekers in my name."

Reuters reported that the women protesters, clad in white, occupied the floor of the Hart Senate building and wrapped themselves in foil blankets, a reference to the conditions of migrant children sleeping in detention centers.

Jayapal also highlighted another action taking place this Saturday, June 30, to advocate for the rights of asylum seekers. 

Three U.S. congressmen were arrested last year for protesting President Trump’s immigration policies, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) were dragged away during a protest in front of Trump Tower. The protest focused on Dreamers, those young people who came to the U.S. as children.