Ryan conducted a radio interview with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has singled out for its anti-immigration stances. Ryan has since distanced himself from FAIR and clarified he only participated in a radio interview with the organization. (See the JT's full coverage of the issue here.)
We stopped by briefly on Tuesday for photos of the protestors in action. A good-sized crowd carried signs outside of Ryan's office and delivered a proclamation demanding Ryan no longer meet with the group. Ryan wasn't at the office, but Teresa Mora, an aide in Ryan's office, was there.
The event was largely peaceful. Police showed up briefly to keep protesters on the sidewalk (not in the street) and to ensure the crowd kept the door open as they walked into Ryan's office.
Horlick teacher Al Levie, known for organizing high school students in political movements, was part of the crowd. Here are more photos:
A protester holds a sign demanding Ryan cut any ties with FAIR. Ryan said in a statement his ties to FAIR were minimal. Ryan is listed in one article on FAIR's website as part of a list of U.S. representatives in support of preventing illegal immigrants from benefiting from health care reform.
Update: Here's a statement about the protest released Wednesday from Voces de la Frontera:
Ryan Backs Away from FAIR, Students Push Him to Sign a Pledge Against Hate, Co-Sponsor DREAM Act
Yesterday, more than 75 protesters with signs reading "Hate has no home in Racine" and "No Legitimacy to FAIR" picketed outside Congressman Paul Ryan's office in response to his recent interview with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. As a result of the protest, Ryan has since issued a statement distancing himself from FAIR and clarifying that his name will be removed from their website.
Kennia Coronado is a sophomore at Horlick High School in Racine and a member of Students United for Immigrant Rights (SUFRIR). She and other members of SUFRIR and their partner group Students United in the Struggle (SUITS) organized the rally yesterday. She says, "It's a good thing that Paul Ryan backed away from FAIR and asked to be removed from their website. Now we need him to be a leader. Yesterday we brought a pledge against hate to his office, we want him to sign it."
Racine Voces de la Frontera coordinator Maria Morales also sees this as a victory. "FAIR is a thinly veiled hate group that too often gets into the mainstream media as a legitimate counterpoint of view. When Representatives like Ryan disassociate themselves from FAIR it helps to discredit them," she explains. "Now we need Ryan to do more. Many families in Racine are suffering because of a broken immigration system. We need him to work with us towards comprehensive immigration reform."
A delegation of youth and community members met with Ryan's staff during the rally to explain their demands. Christian Alvarez, a junior at Walden High School was part of the delegation and reports "I was really angry when I heard that Ryan interviewed with FAIR and it is great our rally got him to move away from them." However, he is not satisfied with just a move away from FAIR. "There are other important things I'm concerned about that I brought up to his staff. Congressman Ryan used to support the DREAM Act and now he has turned his back on it. My friends need the DREAM Act. I asked his staff why Ryan is not supporting those students. They promised a response from the congressman and I am eager to see it."
Congressman Ryan's office is expected to give a response on the pledge and to clarify his position on the DREAM Act and immigration reform within a week.