12 buses from all over the state, along with several carloads of people, drove to the Capitol for the 21st annual Immigrant Day on Monday.
Organizers said 815 people attended to celebrate the contributions immigrants have made to the U.S. and to also use the event as a policy platform.
“California, our home state, must continue to be a champion for immigrants,” speaker Zahra Biloo said. “In California we believe that everyone is created equal."
Biloo, along with many others, took the podium on the steps of the Capitol building with a rallying cry to stand on the front lines for all immigration policy. California is the home to the nation's largest population of immigrants.
Carlos Amador works at California Immigrant Policy Center as an organizing director. He was happy with the turnout.
“I think it is a great opportunity to know that they have a voice here in California, that they can change their environment and society for the benefit of the community,” Amador said.
This year, they are focusing on three key pieces of legislation: SB29 “Dignity not Detention” which gives immigrants basic rights when detained, keeping them out of detention facilities. Next is SB54 “California Values Act” which would make California a sanctuary state and lastly SB6 “Legal Services for Immigrants” which would devote money for legal defense.
SB54 and SB6 were passed by the Senate and are waiting for a vote in the Assembly.
Because each piece of legislation is controversial, each person on the lawn was prepped before talking to legislators inside the Capitol. Amador said having the immigrants and allies talking to the legislators help put a face to each bill.
“We want them to remember us when they go to vote,” he added.
Many were concerned with the current political landscape in D.C. but felt the support from California’s government and hopes that there would be strength in numbers. One of the group leaders was Priya Murthy, who organized support from the Bay Area.
"We want to show that California is creating shields of protection around the immigrant community against what the Trump administration is outlining,” she said.
She works as a policy and advocacy director of Services Immigration Rights and Education Network (SIREN) and spoke to ABC10’s Anne Di Grazia. Murthy said they hope their influence can help make change.
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