COACHELLA, Calif. - Thousands of people, including a handful from the Coachella Valley, will drive to Bakersfield Wednesday morning. They say, it's the first stop on the road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Supporters from all over the state are demanding congress take action on comprehensive immigration reform. Activists from seven cities will protest outside House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's office in Bakersfield district, hoping he will push his constituents to vote for a pathway to citizenship.
Dozens of people of all ages gathered at Veteran's Park in Coachella at a rally and send-off for the caravan. "We don't want families to get separated anymore," said Maria Rebollar, a recent college graduate from the valley who benefited from President Obama's DREAM act. "If we want to work together, it should be all of us. That's the key."
Families from the Council of Mexican Federations or COFEM held the rally. They want immigration reform, specifically creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. A reform package was passed by the senate last month but lost steam in the House. Speaker John Boehner said he won't bring the bill up for vote, unless there's a vast majority of republican support. Republicans have said they would prefer piecemeal legislation as it relates to immigration, on issues like border security. "The time to put people above partisanship and solutions above ideologies is now," said democratic congressman Raul Ruiz.
The 36th district representative spoke to the crowd at the event and pointed to the potential benefits of reform. "We're going to reduce the deficit by $850 billion over the next 20 years," said Ruiz. "We're going to add to the economic growth."
A growth leaders say the Coachella Valley relies on. The focus on the role of immigrants in the desert's two major industries: hospitality and agriculture. "Really predicated on the work force of the immigrant," said Mayor of Coachella Eduardo Garcia. "And it is said that anywhere between 40 and 55% of that work force in those industries are undocumented."
While the groups try to put pressure on congress, republican senator Marco Rubio warned members of his party that even if the bill fails, the president could make an executive order allowing many undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. "I believe that this president will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress, he will be tempted to issue an executive order as he did for the DREAM Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen," Rubio said in an interview Tuesday on WFLA Radio's "The Morning Show with Preston Scott."
Maria Rebollar is a DREAM Act kid, she said this, "We're not here to take everyone's job like people say you know. We are working hard and we're working hard together to get there."