Twenty-one days and 285 miles later, PICO California’s Pilgrimage for Citizenship ended in Bakersfield, California yesterday, with more than 2,000 immigration reform advocates joining 15 pilgrims in House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) home district.
Eleven pilgrims (symbolizing the 11 million immigrants waiting for immigration reform in the US) began the walk in Sacramento last month, with four more joining along the way. The walk–and yesterday’s event to mark the conclusion of it–was organized to call attention to immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
The Fox Theater in Bakersfield was filled to capacity as immigrants, advocates, and family members gathered together to tell stories about and pray for families separated by deportation. The advocates then marched over to Rep. McCarthy’s office, where they left family photos, stuffed animals, and empty shoes–asking the Congressman to walk a mile in their lives. Yesterday’s event hearkened back to a similar rally in Bakersfield less than a month ago, when the Caravan 4 Citizenship brought advocates from across California to McCarthy’s office to demand action from him on immigration reform.
Rep. McCarthy himself was not in attendance, having flown back to Washington, DC early. Event organizers left an empty chair on stage to symbolize his absence, and his office issued a statement saying that, “Rather than take up the rushed Senate bill, I believe we must fix our broken immigration system through a step by step legislative approach that focuses on securing the border first.”
Attendees of the event arrived by bus from more than a dozen California cities, including San Jose, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernadino, Stockton, Fresno and Oakland. According to the Bakersfield Californian, only one anti-immigrant protester was present.
View pictures from the Bakersfield rally yesterday below: