Several immigrant rights groups organized a Car and Community Rally for Citizenship at St. Philip Benizi Church in Fullerton on September 18 during a week of action co-organized by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).
The purpose of the rally was to protect a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants proposed in the current budget reconciliation bill in Congress, which has passed the House but not the Senate.
There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Many cars decorated with signs supporting a pathway to citizenship embarked from the parish parking lot for a 7-mile drive around Fullerton, honking horns and waving signs.
Upon their return, undocumented speakers shared their stories.
Jazmin, a 21-year-old DACA recipient currently attending Cal State Fullerton, arrived in the United States when she was a year-and-a-half old.
“This is where I go to school, this is where I grew up, this is the only place I know as home,” she said. “Even as a DACA recipient, I feel like I still live in the shadows, being scared every day that everything I worked for can be taken away.”
Sharon, a Chinese-Indonesian DACA recipient, recently graduated with honors from the University of California, Irvine. Sharon works as the civic engagement coordinator from the Korean Resource Center in Fullerton and Los Angeles.
“Some people and politicians like to frame me as an alien who doesn’t belong in this country, while others will frame me as an “innocent child” that was forcefully brought to this country by my parents and that ultimately paints my parents as the guilty ones,” Sharon said. “I’m here to say that both of those narratives are completely false and also harmful.
“My parents were both escaping unlivable circumstances and they knew that if they wanted me or my sister to have any chance at safety or to have fair opportunities that they had to leave by any means necessary. They also had no choice. I come to you today a product of my parents’ sacrifice and love,” Sharon said.
Daniel, an asylum seeker from Cameroon, said he was in five detention centers throughout California. He entered the United States through the San Ysidro port of entry in 2018 and after he was released from detention, he was assisted by Orange County community members to navigate the system. Despite being in difficult situations, including being homeless for a couple months, Daniel was able to complete law school and this September he sat for the bar exam.
“I know what it feels like going through the immigration system. I was able to get asylum,” Daniel said, “We need the country to see that these individuals are essential.”
On September 19, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled against efforts to include this immigration reform effort in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
“We are deeply disappointed in the Parliamentarian’s decision, but the fight for immigration reform will continue. California Senator Alex Padilla said in a joint statement with U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. “Senate Democrats have prepared alternative proposals for the Parliamentarian’s consideration in the coming days.”
Immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, include DACA recipients, people who have temporary protected status, asylum seekers, and others. The most recent wave of immigrants to the United States includes refugees from Afghanistan.
To contact California Senator Alex Padilla visit www.padilla.senate.gov.
To contact California Senator Diane Feinstein visit www.feinstein.senate.gov.
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