Local immigration advocates take part in statewide rally

With Congress back in Washington on Monday, some local immigration advocates reacted with frustration over the growing possibility that lawmakers will forego changes to immigration laws this year because of the ongoing debate over military strikes in Syria and the looming political battle over the country's debt ceiling.

In California, immigration activists held rallies in Petaluma and eight other cities across the state to urge Congress to "get back to work" on immigration reform.

"This is really at their own peril - if House Republicans choose to put this on the back burner, they will pay for it in 2014," said Jesus Guzman, chairman of the North Bay Organizing Project's immigration task force. "This is really what the rallies Monday are about...They need to get back to work or they're going to be out of work."

Immigration Rally and March


Rally participants seemed undaunted by reports from Washington that reconsideration of the stalled Senate immigration bill was unlikely until later this year and possibly next year.

"We're pushing ahead locally, no matter what," said George Beeler, president of the Unitarian Universalists of Petaluma, one of several faith based groups that organized the rally at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Petaluma, in collaboration with the North Bay Organizing Project.

"I think often that things like Syria are an excuse to not deal with domestic issues," he said.

Carrying signs that read, "Keep Families Together," "Immigration Reform Now" and "Obama, Yes You Can," activists called on Congress to approve the bi-partisan stalled Senate immigration bill.

"They have the greatest opportunity to make history by passing immigration reform," said Abraham Solar, director of Latino ministry for St. Vincent de Paul Church.

Solar, who was emcee at the rally, reminded the crowd that Congress has not embarked on such a massive task of legalizing millions of immigrants illegally present in the country since 1986.

"It's about time they welcomed 11 million people," he said.

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