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California Rally Part of Growing Momentum for Real Immigration Reform in 2010

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A thousand people gathered in Van Nuys, CA, on Saturday to stand up for real immigration reform. According to Rachel Labruyere at Standing FIRM:

On Saturday, nearly 1,000 advocates gathered in Van Nuys, CA to march for immigration reform! The marchers left the Van Nuys City Hall and marched 1.2 miles to the Church on the Way, where they attended a panel discussion of experts and advocates.

Angelica Salas of CHIRLA marches with her daughter, Robert Gittelson and Raul Murillo, President of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional Los Angeles.

The rally and march was followed by what appears to have been a wide-ranging and informative discussion amongst immigration experts. Labruyere writes:

Bernie Walsdorf , the president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association opened his discussion with a Bible verse about treating immigrants with dignity. He went on to rattle of some sobering statistics about currently immigration policy under the Obama administration:

ICE detains 32,000 people everyday! The Obama administration has deported over 200,000 people and there have been 107 deaths in immigration detention facilities.

Dr. Manuel Pastor, a professor at the University of Southern California, cited a report that concluded comprehensive immigration reform would bring in $16 billion, annually, to the state of California. (Another recent report concluded that immigration reform would bring in $1.5 trillion in added national Gross Domestic Product in the next 10 years.)

In the current economic climate Dr. Pastor asked:

Can we afford to leave this money on the floor? Untapped? Can we afford NOT to pass immigration reform?

Saturday’s event follows several weeks of major grassroots momentum (including rallies, protests, faith vigils, and more) to push for real immigration reform in the year ahead, despite the cynical political forecasts.

Via the Reform Immigration FOR America Blog:

Reports are still coming in from all across the country about the amazing events held last week. From Alaska to Florida, from California to New Jersey, from Virginia to Colorado, people everywhere are uniting to show the world that immigration reform can’t wait. Here are some of the highlights.

Check out “Des Moines calls for immigration reform in 2010,” and “Chicago: Full Citizenship and Full Employment For Full Equality for more from the FOR America Campaign. And of course, we can’t forget the 10,000-person march in Phoenix, Arizona on January 16th, which we live-blogged right here at America’s Voice. While the themes and concerns of each local event varied, each city called for immediate, federal action to reform immigration.

Tens of thousands of people across the country joined together this month, through grassroots action, to call on Congress to fix our deeply dysfunctional immigration system. Now, more than ever, it is urgent that we do so.

(Rachel Labruyere thanks Robert Gittelson, a guest blogger at Standing FIRM and a chief organizer of Saturday’s Van Nuys event, as well as Will Coley, who live-tweeted and photographed the event– taking the image above.)