Immigration activists caravan to Bakersfield, call for reform

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Thousands of people from all over the state flooded the office of Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy demanding action towards immigration reform.  The caravan from Dodger stadium included people from the Coachella Valley.  The activists want the Republican Whip to push his party towards a vote on comprehensive reform.  The congressman was unavailable, because he is on a trip to Israel. "For our residents who made the trip up there, I think it's somewhat frustrating not to be able to ensure that someone will sit on the other side of the table," said Coachella mayor Eduardo Garcia.  

While McCarthy was unavailable, he released this statement on his website: "I think that it is always healthy to have a dialogue on the important issues of the day, and I welcome folks coming to visit Bakersfield.  While I have met with many groups across the spectrum of the immigration reform debate, in the end, I value the input of my constituents in the 23rd Congressional District most. I have long said that our immigration system is broken, but rather than take up the Senate bill, the House will move in a step by step approach that first secures the border."

The statement reaffirms his and some of his party's desire for a piecemeal approach to immigration, despite the senate's bipartisan approval of the the bill last month.  It's drawn some frustration from across the aisle.  "Yes, we need to secure the border, but we need to outline a pathway for legislation and ultimately citizenship," said Mayor Garcia.

While the group did not get to meet with the congressman, mayor Garcia believes the caravan served a purpose.  "I think there's a strong level of commitment to this issue and that's only going to continue to be built upon," said Garcia.  

A group of protesters also joined the crowd asking McCarthy to stop the immigration bill. "These are the people he is supposed to represent, not individuals who have been bussed in from Los Angeles and Coachella," said one protesters.  

Mayor Garcia said he couldn't be more proud of the people he represents for their efforts.  "What I see is a community that is proud, and a community that believes in this country's values," said Garcia.  

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