More than 1,000 hold vigil for immigration reform in Santa Clara

fam unity vigil

Again, this is cross-posted from the Reform Immigration FOR America blog. It looks like an incredible action, especially the spontaneous peaceful civil disobedience from the crowd as they were blocked from making their message heard. I never cease to be inspired by this movement.

Yesterday's Family Unity event in Santa Clara was a major success. While I couldn't be there marching alongside our leaders and advocates, I received the following email from one of the Reform Immigration FOR America organizers. I think his words capture the event better than I could, so I will re-post them here:

Four states and more than 1000 leaders united yesterday to organize the Western Rally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, part of the national effort of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign. The action aimed directly at Secretary Janet Napolitano as she returned to give a speech at her alma mater, Santa Clara University, yesterday in Santa Clara, California. Our message was stop tearing our families apart, pass immigration reform in 2010.

More than 1000 leaders from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho rallied for immigration reform at Lafayette Park before marching two miles around the University to the Mayer Theater where Secretary Napolitano delivered a talk. Leaders from immigrant rights organizations, community organizations, unions and social service organizations were present for a march that grew and grew as we approached Mayer Theater, the site of Secretary Napolitano’s talk. She definitely felt our presence as the march stretched for more than 30 minutes around the University. As our marchers reached the theater each took and lit a candle representing hope for immigration reform in 2010.

When we reached just past the Theater, the marchers tried to turn across Lafayette Street (the previously approved route march). The police refused to let us cross the street prompting an impromptu sit-in for 25 minutes whilst our leaders negotiated an agreement with the police. Our sit-in occurred from 7:30 to almost 8:00 pm, perfectly matching the timing of Napolitano’s talk which began indoors at the Mayer Theater at 7:30 pm. Our presence was felt yesterday in San Jose.

It sounds like the event and action were an amazing demonstration of our community's commitment to passing immigration reform. The local Mercury News had this to say about the demonstration:

About 1,000 noisy but peaceful protesters greeted U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano when she returned to her alma mater Thursday night to speak on global security. The protesters' message: Tell your boss, President Barack Obama, to keep his promise to work for the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill by Congress. Carrying signs that said, "Justice for Immigrants," and "Keep Our Families Together," the protesters were not allowed near the campus theater, where Napolitano spoke. Instead, they gathered several hundred yards from the building, at Homestead Road and Lafayette Street, many carrying candles.

It sounds like although the main draw was hearing Secretary Napolitano, our action ended up being the real story. This week we have shown our power, our commitment and the sheer force of our movement.This is just the beginning. [photo via @CAUSAOregon]

Below is the first round-up of media clips covering the event. More to come...

KTVU - Santa Clara - Hundreds of protestors demand immigration reform.

CBS5 - Homeland Security chief speaks in Santa Clara

CBS5 - Janet Napolitano to speak at Santa Clara University