Grammy-winning group Los Tigres del Norte will headline an immigration rally and free concert on the Mall on Oct. 8 aimed at keeping pressure on Congress to approve an overhaul of the nation's border control laws, organizers said.
Immigration advocates expect the two-hour concert to draw tens of thousands of people to Congress's doorstep, an important visual symbol that can add cultural weight to the pro-reform political movement.
"It's a force to be reckoned with," said Felix Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, who is helping organize the concert. "Our presence cannot be denied. If people want to turn a blind eye, they will soon face the wrath of this community for their failure to act."
The rally comes at a time when immigration reform is stalled on Capitol Hill. The Senate approved a comprehensive bill, which includes a 13-year path to citizenship for most of the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants. But House Republican leaders have said they will not hold a vote on that legislation; rather, they have pursued a series of smaller-scale bills focused on border control and temporary work visas.
Lawmakers face a tight timeframe to potentially consider immigration bills, with deliberations on Syria, the budget and the debt ceiling taking up most of the late summer and fall. Advocates have said they hope the House GOP will devote time to immigration in October, but some lawmakers have said the issue could be put off until next year.
"October is a very, very critical month, which is the reason we made this decision to keep the pressure on," said Gustavo Torres, president of Casa de Maryland.
Los Tigres del Norte, which was formed in the late 1960s, has achieved popularity and success while singing about topics such as illegal immigration and the drug trade on the U.S.-Mexico border. Organizers said the group's popularity will draw people to the concert who might not normally take part in a political rally, extending the reach of the pro-immigration movement. Other musical groups also expected to be added to the schedule.
Jaime Contreras, a vice president at the Service Employees International Union, said: "A handful of extremists in the House of Representatives wants to stop anything progressive, anything that means something to working people, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants. It's time for Republican leaders to start standing up to the extremists and let them know that inaction is not an option for us. We will not stop until we win this fight."