Immigration Activists Rally Across California - New York News

Immigration Activists Rally Across California

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Los Angeles, CA -

(AP) Supporters of change to immigration policy rallied across California on Wednesday, as they tried to shape the national debate and press Congress to grant a path toward citizenship for immigrants living here illegally.
 
In Sacramento, about 50 people gathered around noon outside the federal courthouse downtown. Speakers at the labor-organized event said they want Congress to approve immigration policy that creates an easy-to-navigate system that won't break apart families.
 
One of the attendees, Rosa Torres, said she came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico in 1998 after her mother, who lives in Sacramento, had a heart attack.
 
Torres said she is the only one in her family who was born outside the U.S. and she fears that one day she could be separated from her 9-year-old daughter.
 
"I came over here to be with my mother and then as soon as I got here I started working," said Torres, 39, who does maintenance work to support her daughter as well as six nieces and nephews. "I don't come to live by the government, like welfare. I never asked any help for that."
 
Elsewhere in the state, several hundred people demonstrated peacefully outside the Los Angeles office of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Activists also gathered for a prayer breakfast at a church in San Jose and rallied outside Feinstein's San Diego office.
 
"It's important to keep pushing for something that is more comprehensive, broad," said Jose Mondragon, 24, who entered the U.S. illegally as an 11-year-old and recently applied for a two-year permit that would grant him permission to work.  
 
The San Diego City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to support broad immigration measures that includes paths to citizenship. Advocacy groups repeatedly failed in previous years to garner such support from the Council.
 
"Their hearts changed, their minds changed, and they realized that we can no longer have boundaries in our communities," Christian Ramirez, human rights director of advocacy group Alliance San Diego, said to applause at the rally.
 
A few office workers stopped to watch on their lunch breaks, but the low-key rally of about 50 people was a sharp contrast to massive protests in 2006 when thousands of demonstrators shut down downtown San Diego streets to support looser immigration policies.
 
In Oakland, 100 to 150 people chanted, "We are people! We are not illegal," at a noon rally and march to the federal building, according to an Oakland Tribune report.
 
In San Francisco, demonstrators plan to march later in the day and build an altar with 1,000 paper flowers symbolizing the people deported daily for immigration violations.

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