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Beltway Confidential

Pro-immigration protesters storm Eric Cantor's condo, promise same for Frank Wolf, Bob Goodlatte

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A group of about 60 pro-immigration reform activists late Wednesday evening stormed an Arlington, Va., condominium complex where House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., maintains a home.

The group loudly protested Cantor in the lobby of the building until police arrived, then continued their protest on the street in front of the building before again being told to leave by police.

The protesters never got past the lobby. There were no arrests or injuries in the incident. "We told them they could protest [in front of the building], but they couldn't use bullhorns," a police officer said. The protesters used them anyway.

Cantor himself was nowhere to be seen. It is not clear if he was even home at the time of the protest. The condominium is in Arlington's Pentagon City neighborhood, a residential area near the Pentagon.

The protesters identified themselves as being with a group called Casa In Action and said their plan was to slide fliers under the doors of all of the building's residents.

The fliers accused Cantor of opposing the "grant[ing] citizenship to millions of undocumented Virginians." The fliers urged his neighbors to "tell him: Rep. Cantor, the time is now for citizenship!"

"It was a normal evening, then a guy came in claiming that he wanted to know if there were any units for rent," said the woman minding the condominium's front desk.

"He was acting really weird. Then all of his friends flooded into the lobby. I asked them to leave, but they were shouting at the top of their voices."

The protesters chanted, "What do we want? Racial justice! When do we want it? Now!"

Renato Mendoza, one of the protest's leaders, said their intent was to show how much Hispanic voters count in a swing state like Virginia.

They were considering similar events at the homes of other Old Dominion Republican congressman like Frank Wolf and Bob Goodlatte, he said.

Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration.

"The fate of the Republican Party will depend on whether they push forward with comprehensive immigration reform," Mendoza said.

He conceded though that the protest was borne of desperation as well. Immigration reform has not moved in the House, and time is rapidly running out on the Congressional calendar for any action.

"We are looking at it every single day," Mendoza said. "We are really short on time, especially since everything right now is about Obamacare. Immigration has been second or third on the list. It has been a really tough year."

Other immigration reform advocates have expressed similar frustration.

Maria Elena Durazo, an immigration activist with the AFL-CIO, told reporters earlier this month that her side had nothing to show for the last year's activity: "We have gotten nothing -- nothing. That is why we have to escalate to another level."

House Republican leaders have resisted pressure throughout the year to pass an immigration reform measure.

Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has said the House will not take up a reform measure approved earlier this year by the Senate.

House Republicans are demanding a bill with stricter border enforcement features.

As the protesters were wrapping up their action, a pedestrian strolled by and was given a flyer. "Cantor lives here?" the man remarked. "Well, there goes the neighborhood."

UPDATE: Thinkprogress is reporting that there was also a "civil disobedience protest" by pro-immigration activists inside Cantor's office Wednesday afternoon. Police arrested 11 people at that event, five of which were illegal immigrants.

UPDATE 2: TheBlaze.com has video of the incident made by the protesters themselves. We have embedded the clip, which shows the protesters gaining entry to the condo complex under false pretenses

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Author:

Sean Higgins

Senior Writer
The Washington Examiner