Immigration reform march leads to Feinstein's office

March 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
In San Francisco, people gathered from all over the Bay Area to push for immigration reform, now that Washington has moved forward on health care reform. A crowd started at Justin Herman Plaza for a march to Market Street and Senator Diane Feinstein's office.

This protest in San Francisco follows a rally in Washington D.C. attended by tens of thousands of people. The group is calling for everything from amnesty to an end to racial profiling and they say that following this week's historic vote on health care reform, if ever there was a time for immigration reform, that time is now.

"The president and Congress accomplished something historic. We want them to accomplish history again. We want to see immigration reform legislation introduced right away and we want to see it debated and we want to see it passed," said protest organizer Chris Punongbayan.

But after the cheers, many expressed disappointment in the Obama administration, questioning the president's election promises to move an immigration reform bill. And they blasted the administration's record on deportations, which are up five percent to nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants last year.

Immigration opponents are also calling for reform of another kind.

Yeh Ling-Ling runs the Alliance for a Sustainable USA out of her Orinda home.

"President Obama should enact some sort of immigration moratorium and seriously enforce our immigration laws. This is the real reform," said Ling-Ling.

As the polarizing issue pushes critics and opponents apart, it brought together a group of African-American clergy members in Oakland on Wednesday morning.

Some cannot help but compare the fight for immigration reform, to the battle for civil rights they fought decades ago.

"The current political arena in the United States is echoing what was happening in the 60s with the hate," said Rev. Phillip Lawson, a retired Methodist minister.

"I would hope our legislators understand the pressing need for this, not just in California but all over our country," said Rev. Greg Chisolm from Oakland's St. Patrick Catholic Church.

The group protesting at Feinstein's office hopes to put direct pressure on the senator since she sits on the Senate's subcommittee on immigration. Her office released a statement saying she supports comprehensive immigration reform.

The protesters said they will keep making noise until legislators hear them on this issue.

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