By Bradlee Locke | News Editor
A little boy stretched out his arm to hold onto his mother’s hand as she walked along chanting, “Si, se puede,” translated, “Yes, we can.” A broken American flag tucked into the back of his Spiderman hat swayed in the breeze as he kept up with the 300 marchers on their way to San Bernardino City Hall Oct. 5 for National Day of Dignity and Respect.
Tens of thousands of immigration reform supporters showed up in 150 cities across the nation, including San Bernardino and Riverside.
A bill targeted toward reform was passed by the Senate in June but has been stalled in the House of Representatives since its original passing.
Martha Figueroa, one of the event organizers and part of Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Action Fund, explained the goals of this event.
“We want to send a strong message to Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, that enough is enough, and that they need to be moving on comprehensive immigration reform,” Figueroa said. “We’re not going to wait, and we’re not going to go away. This issue is very important to us, and we’re going to continue until we see something.”
The group rallied outside city hall to send a message to Rep. Gary Miller (R) of San Bernardino, who has not given a statement about his position on the issue.
One of the speakers at the rally was Jacqueline Meza, senior sociology student at the University of California at Riverside. Meza was born in Mexico and came to America while in second grade, but did not become a citizen until last month.
“We have less than 30 days left to convince Congress for immigration reform to pass,” Meza said. “If we don’t convince them, if this doesn’t go through, then 10 to 15 years will go by before this is proposed again in Congress.”
Meza has been working for over a year with a national non-profit organization called Mi Familia Vota, which works to enforce change in the Latino community.
For those afraid to march, others stepped in for them.
“I know a lot of (illegal immigrants) are scared of coming out behind those lines and saying ‘Hey, I’m undocumented.’” said Norberto Gonzalez, junior psychology major at the University of California at San Diego. “But I can come out for them,” Demonstrations were also held on Oct. 8 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Among the 200 people who were arrested, eight were House Democrats.
Despite setbacks, supporters continue to press the House to make a decision before it is too late.
“I want to make sure people’s stories have happy endings,” Gonzalez said. “I know there are struggles in between all the time, and that’s why I’m here today for them – for that struggle.”
President Obama and Democrats said they will tackle immigration next now that the government has reopened.