Advocates in Van Nuys demand immigration reform in 2010

On Saturday, nearly 1,000 advocates gathered in Van Nuys, CA to march for immigration reform! The marchers left the Van Nuys City Hall and marched 1.2 miles to the Church on the Way, where they attended a panel discussion of experts and advocates.

On the panel Angelica Salas, of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, reminded the crowd that the number of votes needed to win immigration reform is 279 and that every day people are on the ground organizing to make that number a reality.

"There's no way to win unless we're out there, knocking on doors, getting in their face. We need voters and the American public to demand reform."

Bernie Walsdorf , the president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association opened his discussion with a Bible verse about treating immigrants with dignity. He went on to rattle of some sobering statistics about currently immigration policy under the Obama administration:

ICE detains 32,000 people everyday! The Obama administration has deported over 200,000 people and there have been 107 deaths in immigration detention facilities.

Our system is certainly not treating immigrants with dignity and is lacking in the basic civil and human rights that should be afforded to everyone. Immigration reform is about returning those rights and standing up as a country of morals and dignity.

Dr. Manuel Pastor, a professor at the University of Southern California, cited a report that concluded comprehensive immigration reform would bring in $16 billion, annually, to the state of California. (Another recent report concluded that immigration reform would bring in $1.5 trillion in added national Gross Domestic Product in the next 10 years.)

In the current economic climate Dr. Pastor asked:

Can we afford to leave this money on the floor? Untapped? Can we afford NOT to pass immigration reform?

The panel was both informative and a rousing and inspiration event for advocates. Despite the naysayers and the grim reports of immigration reform's small hope in the current political climate, these advocates and experts know that reform is the right thing to do, the smart thing to do and what the American public wants to do.

Congratulations to the folks that made Saturday's event such a success and a special THANK YOU to the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition for pulling the event together, to Robert Gittelson, our guest blogger here at Standing FIRM who was integral in organizing the event and Will Coley who live-tweeted the event and made sure to snap the pics you see in this post.

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