The timing couldn’t be better or more urgent for a “massive march” to demand legislators bring immigration reform back to the table, according to immigration activists and their celebrity partners who this week issued a call for participation in a protest march being held this Sunday in Downtown Los Angeles.
This is the time of year when people go out of their way to celebrate the independence days of Mexico and many other Latin American countries and Hispanic Heritage Month, which recognizes the many contributions made by Latinos to the U.S., the same enthusiasm should be shown for making your voices heard when it comes to demanding comprehensive immigration reform, said one of several speakers at a press conference promoting details for Sunday’s march, part of a national day of action.
“I believe it’s time that these same thousands who celebrate the independence of their home countries come out, to the future, [for] immigration reform—but we have to fight for it, because it’s not going to fall into our hands, not everything should be a party,” said Roberto Bravo of the Council of Bi-national Organizations (Consejo Binacional de Organizaciones).
“We have to fight for family unification, we need to be at Olympic and Broadway at 10am on Sept. 22,” Bravo said passionately.
The march is being organized by the “Millions of Voices for Immigration Reform with a Path to Citizenship Coalition,” founded by long-time immigrant rights activists Gloria Saucedo of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, Javier Rodriguez of the March 25 Coalition, Raul Murillo of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional and Juan Jose Gutierrez of Vamos Unidos
We chose this name “because there are millions of voices across the country—and 80 percent of the entire population support immigration reform,” said Rodriguez in Spanish. “Its an opportune time to push for more, to give it a final push so that this year immigration reform is approved.”
Gutierrez said thousands are expected to participate in the march to urge Congress, and specifically the House of Representatives, to move forward with approving comprehensive immigration reform legislation. He and other speakers said it’s the Republican leadership in the House that is obstructing reform efforts.
“Not only are we doing this huge, important march on Sept 22, [it] will be followed up by a whole series of political actions, marches, picket lines, masses, student walk-outs etc. across the nation,” Gutierrez told EGP, adding he’s just learned another group is organizing a rally for Oct. 5.
“People want to bring the issue of immigration reform back to the table in the House of Representatives,” which is holding up the debate on immigration and a path to citizenship, he said.
Saucedo called on members of the press to help promote the Sep.22 march. “We need you to announce the march every day, at all hours…” Saucedo said.
Several Spanish-language radio and television personalities have announced they are backing the effort.
Too many families split between the US and their homeland are lighting candles hoping to someday be able to see their loved ones, said Ricardo Sanchez, “El Mandril” of regional Mexican music station KLAX-FM (97.9). Many people have not been able to return home to say good-bye to their deceased parents, he said, struggling to hold back his tears.
Sanchez said people should not be misled by those who claim another march will have no impact: “Of course it will make a difference! And we will prove it this Sunday at 10am at Olympic and Broadway,” he said.
Jose Armando Ronstadt, of Spanish news station KWHY channel 22, said the average person, and immigrants in particular, are voiceless, so the media has a responsibility to use their platforms to keep the fervor alive.
“We cannot silence those voices. If we silence the voices of those who need help, its basically sinning against hope, and we have to keep hope alive,” he said.
The passage last Thursday of AB-60, which will allow eligible undocumented immigrants the right to apply for and obtain a driver’s license, was a historic day for immigrants and the state, said State Sen. Kevin A. De Leon speaking in both English and Spanish.
De Leon said Sunday’s march will serve as a symbolic reminder to legislators that people are willing to come together for “what is right and just” for all people living in America.
“What we need in Washington D.C. is political maturity, where folks can find consensus and come together because immigration reform is not a Latino issue, it is not an Asian issue, not an African issue, it is truly an American issue because this country was founded by immigrants for immigrants,” he said.
As De Leon spoke, a heckler shouted at him from the sidewalk. “There’s too many of them! Make Mexico your country!” a heckler shouted at De Leon as he spoke.
The Sept. 22 march is important because it will show that with unity and leadership, there is hope for the improving the situation of immigrant workers, said Raul Murillo, director of La Hermandad Mexicana.