Flexing their muscle after Hispanics were widely credited with helping the president's November re-election, a coalition of immigrant groups and their supporters is planning a series of events in coming weeks to pressure elected officials to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
A rally is scheduled for noon Wednesday at Yokuts Park, 4200 Empire Drive in Bakersfield, Calif. That's the last California stop on a "Keeping Families Together Tour" in which relatives are relaying stories of being separated by current immigration policies.
There's also a "March for a new immigration process" scheduled for 10 a.m. March 24 at Jastro Park, 2900 Truxtun Ave.
At a news conference Tuesday to publicize those events, as well as a campaign urging voters to call and write letters to members of Congress, the Kern Coalition for Citizenship said there is a unique window of opportunity to deal with the difficult issue of immigration reform.
"This is our moment to finally get it right," said Roberto De La Cruz of Service Employees International Union, or SEIU. "The public supports it. The economy needs it. It makes sense, so we are demand ing it."
The coalition consists of leaders from labor and religious groups, as well as college students and faculty.
Cal State Bakersfield sociology professor Gonzalo Santos said equality and citizenship were "the whole principle" that united the coalition that ushered President Barack Obama to a second term, and elected officials need to be cognizant of that momentum as they consider this latest effort for "fair immigration reform."
The coalition already has an ally in the White House, and will be requesting meetings with U.S. Reps. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and David Valadao, R-Hanford, said Dolores Huerta, president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America.
"Now it's time for our local congress people to also get onboard," Huerta said.
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