OC Labor Calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (aka Amnesty) at Press Conference in Anaheim

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AFL-CIO sign
Hundreds of union members and allies rallied in front of Anaheim City Hall today to announce their support for "comprehensive immigration reform," which everyone and their cousin knows as amnesty. The press conference was called by the Orange County Labor Federation and featured leaders from the religious, union, and immigrant communities as speakers.

Latino and union voters were loyal and pivotal in re-electing President Barack Obama to a second term, but his administration has presided over more deportations than any other in history. The big question for the rally: Would today's launch firmly pressure the Executive Office or be hushed in tone about the elephant (or donkey) in the room?

"We are here in support on behalf of all laborers to support whatever we have to do to get [comprehensive immigration reform] through as soon as we can, not wait the eight years that somebody is proposing out there," said Sergio Rascón, Business Manager of Laborers Local 300. That somebody referenced in the illustrative moment, though, is none other than President Obama himself. "If it happened in 1986, why can't it happen now that we have a good president?" he asked soon after.

If details at the press conference seem to be on the vague side of things, it's because a formal resolution remains to be adopted. In conjunction with more than 93 affiliated unions, the call on Congress to reform the nation's immigration system will be articulated more thoroughly next month. The resolution will be accompanied by congressional delegations with local representatives and letter writing campaign efforts.

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Gabriel San Román / OC Weekly
OCLF Executive Director Tefere Gebre MCs the press conference in Anaheim

For now, the hour-long press conference came to a close with drums banning and chants of ¡Sí se puede!

"I do believe there has to be a fair path for legalization and citizenship," Abraham Meda, an organizer for electricians in Orange County said as people in the crowd were dispersing. "Whether it's eight years, or whatever it is that they are trying to map out, they really need to get something done now. Our leaders need to get on board with it from this area in Orange County and get on board with the President," he added.

Others who attended felt that President Obama is the one who needs to be pressured on important policy measures. "I think we need to be a little bit clear with what we want," said Maria Zacarias, a local undocumented immigrant who favors a moratorium on deportations as a starting point to the discussion. "What the White House came out with is more enforcement when there's been a net zero migration."

Seeing labor express solidarity with the cause of immigration is something she found valuable from today's action. "It's important, but it's also important to include other communities also, like the LGBTQ community," Zacarias adds.

"It's good that the labor movement and the faith-based movement are all coming together to get something passed, but it needs to be something clear."

Wonder why rally organizers didn't give her a turn at the mics...

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