Immigration reform rallies held across US
VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Marches and rallies were held across the country Wednesday, as lawmakers in Washington put the final touches on a new bill to reform immigration policy.
In Los Angeles, a large crowd gathered in Westwood Park to march to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office, urging the California senator to be a leader for immigration reform.
Demonstrators are urging Congress to pass an immigration reform package that will include a clear and direct path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
"Undocumented immigrants are vital to our country, especially in the state of California," said Diana Marin of Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy.
"We are here to say we will not turn our backs on the millions of people yearning to be free, yearning to be full Americans," said Stewart Kwoh of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.
A group of four Republican and four Democratic senators is working on the bill. They're hoping to release it sometime this week, possibly as early as Thursday.
Feinstein said in a statement that was handed to protesters, "I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform. I have voted for it in the past. I support the Dream Act, and I support an agriculture workers immigration reform bill with an earned path to citizenship. I have not seen the details of the bill produced by the bipartisan group of eight senators, but the chairman of the Judiciary Committee has said there will be a hearing on it next week, and I look forward to reading the details of the bill. Bottom line: I am a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform."
The bill aims at securing the border and putting 13 million immigrants here illegally on a path to citizenship while also allowing tens of thousands of high- and low-skilled foreign workers into the U.S. on a new visa program.
According to the latest statistics, as much as 80 percent of the nation's approximately 2 million farm workers are here illegally. Farmers say they need a legal way to get them in the fields and working. Advocates of the bill say these workers are being exploited, and families are being torn apart by deportation.
"All the stories, - just kids writing to the president, the elderly people that are sick and the kids that take care of them have to be deported - it's a mess. The immigration system is a mess," said demonstrator Susana Covarubias.
Those who oppose the bill say it only rewards people who enter the country illegally. They're also concerned that allowing 20 million undocumented workers amnesty will place a massive burden on the welfare state.
"With the National Day of Action, I am not surprised of the momentum of the pro-illegal immigration crowd," said Jim Gilchrist, founder and president of the Minuteman Project, in a statement. "I am disappointed that we as a nation have left the meaning of the 'Rule of Law' default to mob rule."
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