Rallies took place in more than 150 cities across the U.S. on Saturday in an effort to restart the push for comprehensive immigration reform led by a group of bi-partisan lawmakers earlier this year.
Organizers of the "Day of Dignity and Respect" events in cities from New York to Los Angeles hope to draw fresh attention to an issue that was at the forefront of the national dialogue in July when the Senate passed an immigration bill that would have included a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented individuals in the U.S., but House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to put to a vote.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the House introduced a similar measure Thursday, which will likely also face opposition from House Republicans, many of whom are wary of supporting anything that could be perceived as "amnesty" for individuals who broke immigration laws to get to the U.S.
House Republicans have also let it be known that they prefer a more step-by-step approach to the immigration issue in contrast to the broader measures in the Senate bill.
Even while advocates have built up their strength — with a broad coalition of business, labor, religious and law enforcement groups calling for a comprehensive bill — they fear that momentum is slipping away for Congress to act this year.
“I know there has been a shutdown, but we want Congress to know that the time is now to act,” said Evelyn Servin, an immigrant advocate. “We don’t want any more deportations. The respect we deserve is really needed here in Alabama.”
In California, protests and vigils were held in 21 cities. In San Diego, several thousand people gathered in Balboa Park on the edge of downtown. They marched to the sound of drumbeats and horns shouting “Si se puede” (“Yes we can” in Spanish).
Ana Nuñez, 30, a student, said she had been living in the United States since 1989 without documents but recently received a temporary deportation deferral. She said that she had not seen her ailing grandparents since leaving Mexico and that she hoped for permanent legal status so she could travel to see them.
“I want to physically feel them,” Ms. Nuñez said, holding a yellow sign reading “Citizenship for 11 million #timeisnow.”
Also in San Diego, Gloria Morales, 45, said she came from Mexico but became an American citizen in 2000. She said she was demonstrating to support other immigrants.
“I know how painful it is to go through a broken system,” she said. “We’re here so they don’t forget about us. It’s time for Obama to give us what he promised us.”
From other sources.
From other sources.
While the demonstrations were unfolding, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed into law eight bills on Saturday expanding protections for immigrants in the state, including for those without legal papers.
Here are some of the California laws signed this week.
As advocates rally across the nation today to urge Congress to adopt comprehensive immigration reform, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed legislation to enhance school, workplace and civil protections for California’s hardworking immigrants.
“While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead,” said Governor Brown. “I’m not waiting.”
While gridlock continues in Washington, California continues to move forward on immigration reform. On Thursday, Governor Brown signed AB 60, extending the legal right to drive on the state’s roadways to millions of Californians and in October 2011, Governor Brown signed AB 131, the California Dream Act.
The Governor signed the following bills today:
• AB 4 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) – Prohibits a law enforcement official from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless specified conditions are met.
• AB 35 by Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) – Provides that immigration consultants, attorneys, notaries public, and organizations accredited by the United States Board of Immigration Appeals are the only individuals authorized to charge a fee for providing services associated with filing an application under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's deferred action program.
• AB 524 by Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) – Provides that a threat to report the immigration status or suspected immigration status of an individual or the individual's family may induce fear sufficient to constitute extortion.
• AB 1024 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Allows applicants, who are not lawfully present in the United States, to be admitted as an attorney at law.
In addition the state has raised the minimum wage as of Jan. 2014, a significant benefit to the undocumented.
If you have photos from the Sacramento march, please send them in.