Porterville workers join caravan to Bakersfield for immigration reform

Published on August 15th, 2013

5,000 urge Rep. McCarthy to support legislation

August 15, 2013
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Porterville farm workers gathered across from Giovanni’s Pizzeria and Arcade on 2nd Street Wednesday morning to meet up with the “Caravan for Citizenship” travelling to Bakersfield to impress on House Whip Kevin McCarthy the importance of an immigration reform.

“Most of the legislators of the Valley are opposed to the immigration reform,” Erasto Teran of Porterville said Wednesday morning before getting on the charter bus to Bakersfield. “We hope to change their mind. Farmers and workers ­­— we need to work together to find a solution.”

Teran, who has lived in the Porterville area for 30-35 years, said he walked from Madera to Sacramento with the UFW — United Farm Workers of America — two years ago.

“How ironic is it that we are the “basket” of the Valley, but we are in very bad shape?” he asked. “Today is the time, we need the reform, the time is now.”

Also in attendance for the caravan as a supporter, but unable to go to Bakersfield, was Juan Duran who spoke about his experience when he was only 14 years old in 1964. Cesar Chavez and Marin Berrera stayed at his house for the night, when they were first organizing in the area.

“I’ve been a member [of UFW] ever since,” Duran said, showing his membership card that dates back to the 1960s, “when all they were talking about then was better wages and conditions for workers.”

This was the largest car and bus caravan in the history of California for immigration reform, according to Communications Director of UFW, Maria Machuca. A reported 345 cars and buses with more than 5,000 people drove into Bakersfield yesterday for the “Caravan for Citizenship.”

The theme of the day was “Give us a vote on a path to citizenship now!”

The group gathered at Yokuts Park and then marched and rallied in front of McCarthy’s district office.

According to a press release sent by Machuca, several people gave speeches.

“The American people want fair immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship,” Martha Arevalo CARECEN executive director said. “The time is now to reunite families who have been separated. The time is now to allow immigrants to come out of the shadows and continue to contribute to America’s future, and the time is now for members of the House to vote on a real solution to a broken system. The “Caravan for Citizenship” illustrates the vast diversity of people who support this effort. We are united, determined and we won’t take no for an answer.”

Mike Garcia, SEIU USWW president said; “Our broken immigration system tears families apart, crushes the dreams of young people and creates an underground economy that hurts all workers. A strong majority of Americans agree now is the time for immigration reform, but some in Washington, DC just haven’t gotten the message. That’s why all summer we will be uniting to make our voice heard – in Congress and in the streets – until we finally have real immigration reform with a path to citizenship.”

“The Hispanic people don’t realize the power and potential they have behind them,” Duran said as the Porterville workers loaded onto the charter bus bound for Bakersfield, “because I consider them the CEOs of our farm community. Without them, what would happen to our fruit basket of the Valley?”

Supporters for the immigration reform joined the caravan from 13 farm worker communities; Stockton, Salinas, Santa Rosa, Napa, Porterville, Fresno, Madera Bakersfield, Delano, Arvin, Lamont, Wasco and Oxnard.

In response to the large support of the “Caravan for Citizenship,” new TV and radio ads starting running throughout the state yesterday, asking McCarthy to focus on the unemployment rate in his territory instead of bringing in more immigrants.

According to a press release by Vicki Robb of Vicki Robb Communications, there were two prominent ads in protest of immigration reform.

“One ad asks why he [McCarthy] wants more immigration rather than jobs for the over 11 percent unemployed in his own district,” Robb wrote. “The second ad tells that legalizing illegal aliens could cost taxpayers over six trillion dollars so they can have entitlement benefits.”

The ads were released by Californians for Population Stabilization — CAPS. The ads are scheduled to run through September 2.

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