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Valley Public Radio Staff
Government & Politics
Tue August 13, 2013
Immigration Rights Advocates Begin March To Bakersfield
A group of marchers is en route from Sacramento to Bakersfield in an effort to garner support for immigration reform. The 21 day Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship began August 12 in Sacramento, and is expected to end September 2, after making stops in Merced, Fresno and other Valley cities.
Cal State Bakersfield Professor Dr. Gonzalo Santos is among the 11 marchers making the 285-mile trek. He says the nation’s immigration laws need revamping.
“We want to turn it into the real issues, which are families and human beings rather than numbers and statistics and budget,” Santos says. “We want to make sure that we deliver the message to our congress people – especially Kevin McCarthy – that this is a human issue and a moral challenge to this country.”
Santos became a citizen earlier this year after living and teaching in the U.S. for over 30 years.
The pilgrims will meet with political leaders during the walk and at rallies in an attempt to gather support for friendlier family oriented immigration reform. The march is thrown by PICO California and Congregations Building Community.
Santos says he is marching for his students, many of who are dreamers.
“This is a story that gives me immense fortitude,” Santos says. “My students are heroes, absolute champions, not only of the issue but of themselves. They have conquered fear. They have conquered these kinds of hardships that I did not know we were capable of doing these things.”
With the U.S. Senate passing immigration reform legislation this summer and the House of Representatives yet to take action - the groups believe now is time to put the pressure on.