Cesar Chavez Honored; Immigration Reform Discussed

COACHELLA, Calif. - Assemblyman Manuel PereZ, D-Coachella, introduced three bills at a meeting on immigration reform in Coachella on Friday that he said will help undocumented workers, and in turn, help the state's bottom line.

The audience also paid tribute to Cesar Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers of America.

For 10 days, starting on Thursday, several immigration advocacy groups have held "Walk with Cesar" rallies.

Dozens gathering Thursday in San Diego with Aztec dancers and bullhorns to celebrate the life of Chavez and his message.

Immigration advocacy groups such as Border Angels and Comite Latino were among the organizations taking part.

The marches started in the South and eventually throughout the state, and on Friday, they made a stop in Coachella.

Mayor Eduardo Garcia and Perez embraced outside of Centro Martin Ortiz -- once Chavez's church of worship.

As the two made their way inside, the signs surrounding them dictated the discussion: "Stop the raids," and "No more deaths."

"When Cesar is gone, the movement goes on, and Cesar Chavez will always be with us," said Enrique Morones, a member of Border Angels.

Teresa Quintanar is a longtime Comite Latino member and a teacher at Peter Pendleton Elementary. Her boyfriend is undocumented, and she is tired of him living in fear. Some of her student's also living in the shadows.

"Those are the ones whose rights we're fighting for," said Quintanar. "We're not asking to leave the criminals here."

Perez then took the podium, just blocks away from where he lives and near a park where Chavez often spoke.

"The beauty of the United States of America is that we can all achieve the American Dream," said Perez.

But first, Perez said the state and then the federal government need comprehensive immigration reform.

He proposed three bills -- one of which would create a guest worker program, allowing undocumented workers already in the U.S. with a clean records and the willingness to learn English -- the opportunity to receive a permit to remain in the country.

"These bills are all based on ensuring that we rebuild our economy and ensure that we do not fall in a downward spiral that eventually will hurt us," said Perez.

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