Members march for immigration reform

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On the weekend of March 23 – 24, SEIU 521 members marched with thousands of community activists in Bakersfield and Salinas for commonsense immigration reform.

On March 23, hundreds of activists marched in Salinas, Calif., including workers from Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas and Mexican American Opportunity Foundation.

The following day, an estimated 1000 people rallied and marched in in Bakersfield to create a path to citizenship.

The events were part of a nationwide effort to urge lawmakers to pass a new immigration process that would provide the estimated 11 million aspiring citizens living in the U.S. a reasonable roadmap to citizenship.

“There is no more important fight than this one,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry to the crowd in Bakersfield. “The path to citizenship runs through Bakersfield. Today, we are holding marches up and down the state and across the country. Now is the time and this is the year. Se puede?”

The crowd exploded with shouts of “Si, se puede!”

Leading the march in BakersfieldOther Bakersfield event attendees included SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Officer Luisa Blue (pictured on the left in purple T-shirt); California Assembly Member Rudy Salas; Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez; and City of Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall.

Teresa Barrientos, a family service worker with Community Action Partnership of Kern, talked about her family history and how her parents came to this country as braceros.

“Citizenship is very important,” she said. “If you’ve been working, paying into the economy and being a good American, you deserve citizenship.”

Marchers in Bakersfield are also seeking to persuade U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House majority whip, to support immigration reform legislation with a path to citizenship.

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