SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Immigration reform supporters rallied across California on Wednesday, as they tried to shape the national immigration debate and press Congress to grant a path toward citizenship for immigrants living here illegally.
In Sacramento, about 50 people gathered around noon outside the federal courthouse downtown. Speakers at the labor-organized event said they want Congress to approve an immigration reform plan that creates an easy-to-navigate system that won't break apart families.
One of the attendees, Rosa Torres, said she came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico in 1998 after her mother, who lives in Sacramento, had a heart attack.
Torres said she is the only one in her family who was born outside the U.S. and she fears that one day she could be separated from her 9-year-old daughter.
"I came over here to be with my mother and then as soon as I got here I started working," said Torres, 39, who does maintenance work to support her daughter as well as six nieces and nephews. "I don't come to live by the government, like welfare. I never asked any help for that."
Elsewhere in the state, several hundred people demonstrated peacefully outside the Los Angeles office of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and about 50 activists gathered for a prayer breakfast at a church in San Jose.
"We are people! We are not illegal," 100 to 150 people chanted at a noon rally and march to the federal building in Oakland, according to an Oakland Tribune report (http://bit.ly/153OEzh).
In San Francisco, demonstrators plan to march later in the day and build an altar with 1,000 paper flowers symbolizing the people deported daily for immigration violations.