40-mile walk for immigration reform kicks off Saturday in Petaluma

Marchers will arrive in San Francisco on Monday.|

Dozens of North Bay residents are set to walk 11 miles from Petaluma to Novato Saturday, the first leg of a three-day march to San Francisco calling for sweeping changes to immigration law.

The "All in for Registry“ march is one of at least 10 planned nationwide — in cities including Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C. — to rally support for a bill in Congress that would allow as many as 8 million undocumented immigrants to apply for legal permanent residency.

The marchers from Petaluma, after overnight stops in Novato and Mill Valley, are to reach San Francisco on Monday. There they will join another group arriving from San Jose, meeting for a 4 p.m. rally at the Federal Building.

The 40-mile North Bay march was organized by the Northern California Coalition for Just Immigration Reform, which is made up of dozens of immigrant rights groups including ALMAS LIBRES, a Sonoma County organization of immigrant and Indigenous women.

Coalition members wanted to “highlight the urgency for the passage of this bill,” H.R. 1511, said Renee Saucedo, program director of ALMAS LIBRES.

“They’re exhausted from having to hide in the shadows in fear of being deported when all they’re doing is breaking their backs working and sustaining many industries, such as agriculture and hospitality,” Saucedo said.

Known as the Registry Bill, H.R. 1511 would be the most significant immigration-related legislation since 1986, when any immigrant who'd entered the country before 1982 became eligible for amnesty under the Immigration Reform and Control Act signed by President Ronald Reagan.

The Registry Bill was reintroduced into the House of Representatives this year by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose. It would update a 1929 law and make most immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least seven years eligible to apply for permanent residency.

“No more suffering,” Socorro Diaz, a leader of NCCJIR and of ALMAS LIBRES, said in a statement. “We ask that Congress pass H.R. 1511 so that migrants have a reasonable process to apply for residency, and they may come out of the shadows of work exploitation and fear.”

The Saturday march leaves from Petaluma’s Walnut Park, 201 Walnut St., at 9 a.m.

You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 707-387-2960 or jeremy.hay@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jeremyhay

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