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Groups Unite to Push for Immigration Reform PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 19 September 2013 05:24

A. Garcia / SFVS

The Millions of Voices March will be held in Los Angeles and in cities across the country including Washington D. C. this Sunday, Sept.22, in an attempt for a massive show of public support for immigration reform. With a wider base of support, military veterans, joined immigration activists in downtown Los Angeles, with well known radio personalities on Tuesday, as a precursor to the weekend march.

"People are patiently waiting that they deliver what they've promised, an immigration reform in 2013," said Juan Jose Gutierrez of Latino Movement USA.

"As long as we don't have it (immigration reform), we have to go out and march," seconded Gloria Saucedo of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional.

"We're sending a clear message to the Congress of the United States that they can pass an immigration reform," said Raul Murillo of Hermandad Mexicana of Los Angeles.

Veterans Raise Their Voice

Meanwhile, Ricardo Reyes, a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who leads the newly formed California-based Veterans for Citizenship, said giving undocumented immigrants a path to legalization is the best way to integrate them into American society.

"When we talk about strengthening the household and family union, this is how you do that," said Reyes, during a press conference at Los Angeles City Hall on Sept. 17. "You become an outstanding citizen and you contribute to society. You play a role in American democracy."

He added that, "it's time for our Congressional leadership to put politics aside and put our national security first by acting on comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship" Reyes said allowing those serving in the armed forces to earn full status as Americans "will strengthen our security." "What's more, our nation will be stronger on the home front when our economy can fully benefit from the talents, hard work, and spending power of our immigrant families," Reyes said.

Veteran Duane Goff denounced efforts by the U.S. government to deport veterans who lacked legal immigration status, calling immigration laws "broken" and "un-American."

Such deportation "hurts us veterans," he said. "We never leave a brother on the battlefield." A large percentage of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are "American in every sense of the word, save one" and are "passionate" about their patriotism, he said.

Eddy Morin, a Vietnam War veteran, echoed those sentiments and said veterans are ready to work to get Congress moving on an immigration reform bill.

"We're going to have to give and take and hammer out some kind of deal where we can get an acceptable agreement for both sides," Morin said. "There's a lot of people being treated unjustly, and I want to do anything to rectify that."

Reyes said the recent deal reached on the Syria crisis, which at one point seemed to derail any possibility of an immigration debate in Congress this year, "is definitely going to help us with the work that we're doing and allow our legislators to pick up the issue and have the debate."

Time Is Of The Essence

The current Congressional legislative session runs until the end of October. If no deal is approved by then, many in the immigrant movement think it's unlikely anything will be done next year, when legislators will abstain from taking on the hotly debated issue in a year of midterm elections.

The problem is that comprehensive immigration legislation, which seemed to be closer than ever just a few months ago, has been stalled in Washington. In June, the Democrat-led Senate approved a bill that sets a path to citizenship for some 11 million unauthorized immigrants while boosting border security. But in the House, Republicans in control criticized the bill as costly and ineffective.

Immigration activists held protests, marches and other events during the summer, only to see their work pushed aside by the Syrian chemical weapons crisis that took over the Congress' work.

Now activists are hoping to rekindle the immigration debate fire with Sunday's march.

"In this country, a right not used is a right wasted. You don't gain any political space without marches, without activism," said state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who joined with activists announcing the march.

Foes And Allies

The march will bring together different activists who, rather than join forces and put aside their egos and differences, once opted to hold different protests on the same day. However, that strategy has backfired, and their recent efforts have failed to attract large number of participants.

The more than one million estimated protestors that walked the streets of Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, to defeat the so-called Sensenbrenner law (H.R. 4437) that made it a crime to help an undocumented immigrant, have dwindled to a few thousand for more recent protest marches and, in some instances, to a few hundred.

Activists have blamed the smaller numbers on the lack of support of radio DJs who previously urged their millions of listeners to the streets. This time they have acquired the support of Ricardo Sanchez, "El Mandril," the leading radio voice among Latinos and who leads the ratings in Los Angeles with his show "La Raza" on 97.9 FM.

"There's a lot of people who haven't been able to visit their parents. It breaks your heart to see the fear people live with, that they're afraid to simply go to the gas station for fear of being deported," Sanchez said while appearing with activists outside the steps of City Hall.

The "Millions of Voices for Immigration Reform" coalition is also planning marches in Washington D.C. and other cities across the country this Sunday. The March in Los Angeles will begin at 10 a.m. on the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, heading towards First and Temple streets.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 September 2013 05:31

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