Rita Chairez was eight when her mother brought her to this country from Mexico, illegally. Under a Republican President you may have heard of , Ronald Reagan, she was able to stay in this country legally under the now defunct ‘' amnesty program'' and eventually became a U.S. citizen. This mother of two now works for the Catholic Archdiocese. We met at the Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights this morning where she was one of hundreds at an immigration reform rally. For her, it's simple, the 11 million people estimated to be living in this country illegally need a way to ‘'come out of the shadows'' as the saying goes. The Senate essentially agrees with her, having passed an immigration reform bill with the so called ‘'path to citizenship'' that so many want. The House is a different story. It's not expected to happen as long as ‘'citizenship'' is part of the deal.
Also at today's rally, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, a longtime advocate of immigrants' rights, a fluent Spanish speaker, who told the crowd he was with them. When I asked him what influence a Mayor can have on a federal issue such as this, he was ready with a prepared answer that , even though he's given it many times before, still is true.. " I've been an advisor to President Obama on this issue since I've been the City Council President. This is crucial to the future success of Los Angeles. We are the voice of America''
Rita and hundreds of others there today would certainly agree with that. They are far far far from the "Red State' where the concern is illegal immigrants gobbling up scare public resources and defying the rule of law and the sanctity of the border. The groups packed their lunches and their bottle water and boarded buses today towards the Bakersfield area targeting a little known but highly influential Republican Congressman named Kevin McCarthy, the "House Whip'' who is a staunch opponent of citizenship for illegal immigrants as well.
As the convoy pulled away from the Mission in stifling heat, everyone was feeling powerful and optimistic even though they know have an uphill battle in the House . They're patient.