08/01/2013 08:01 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2013

I Was Arrested for Demanding a Vote

Each day the House pushes immigration reform to the side, another 1,000 members of our community -- or more -- are deported. These immigrants who came here under a broken immigration system to work and make a better life for their families, are arrested, detained, and deported without knowing how long they will have to wait to see their children, spouses, and parents again.

So today, for them and all the families who are waiting for Congress to enact fair immigration reform with a path to citizenship, I decided to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and was arrested at a Capitol Hill protest.

The handcuffs wrapped tightly around my wrists became bracelets of honor to send a message to Congress: "Ya es hora!" "The time is now!"

Our immigrant community has organized, mobilized, and voted to demand that the House vote on immigration reform, and we will not stand down until that vote is taken.

Each week, we see more and more conservative lawmakers taking a long view of immigration reform and realizing the economic and social benefits of the legislation that is favored by the public and all major political interests.

Standing in the way are leaders who fear being whacked by the hateful rhetoric of myopic nativists who oppose immigration. Though the leaders denounce the mean-spirited words, they have yet to stand up to the harsh "self-deportation" proposals that are meant to derail legislation, like the SAFE Act and other shortsighted bills.

In May, the Senate passed historic immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship. Now, it's time for the House of Representatives to act. But instead of leading and calling for a vote on immigration reform, Congress is heading home for its month-long summer vacation.

We will follow them home. We will knock on their doors, march to their offices and even stand in jail to send out the word that the time is now to pass immigration reform.

We will remind them that hundreds of thousands of immigrant members of our communities have been deported, families separated, and local communities devastated.

Immigration reform with a road to citizenship can happen once House leaders decide it has to be done. The public demands it, new Americans are yearning for the chance to earn citizenship and contribute their best to our country, and our economy will greatly benefit from it.

So, legislators can either abdicate their leadership roles and follow the lead of nativists, or hold the legislative gavel firmly in hand and move with urgency when they return to Capitol Hill after Labor Day.

Today, I risked arrest. House leadership should take the risk of voting with the faith that they will be on the right side of history if they vote in favor of immigration reform.

Whether they rise or fall is up to them. But we will stand firm.