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Faith groups speak up for immigration reform

Local leaders present platform for change at town hall meeting
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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SACRAMENTO – More than 50 people from Auburn and Roseville joined a standing-room only crowd of 900 at a town hall meeting in Sacramento on Wednesday to send a message about immigration reform.

Leaders of several area faith-based groups and organizations laid out a proposal for new immigration laws before the crowd at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Organized by religious and community agencies collectively called the Diocesan Immigration Support Network, the meeting called on congressional representatives to support a four-part platform intended to avoid separating families and persecuting innocent people. These four principles included a path to citizenship of seven years or less, a provision to end the backlog of applications for families seeking to be reunited, protections for farm and migrant workers and a law enforcement plan to focus on those who threaten public safety.

No congressional leaders attended the event, though Rep. Doris Matsui sent a representative to answer questions on her behalf, and Rep. Tom McClintock sent a statement.

In his statement, McClintock encouraged illegal immigrants to seek citizenship through the current process of legal immigration, but he said allowing illegal immigration would make the legal process “pointless.”

“We should remember that millions of legal immigrants have taken that path to citizenship, have respected America’s sovereignty, have obeyed our laws, have done everything our country has asked of them, and have waited patiently in line to do so,” he said. “It is not fair to allow millions of illegal immigrants to cut in line in front of them.”

Having taken a bus to the event with dozens of other residents in the Auburn area, Felix Sabalsa of Georgetown said he went out of curiosity and came away with mixed feelings. He was unsurprised that the elected officials did not attend, but he was as certain as ever that immigration reform needs progress sooner than later.

“I came for information, to see what the congressmen are doing, or not doing, in this case, and where they stand on immigration for illegal immigrants. They’re here illegally, but they all work pretty hard to support their families. They’re not taking anything from anybody,” he said. “It’s a pretty good program to put together, just trying to inform the public that people still stand behind them and we want to see (legislation) happening soon.”

Alberto Robles of Auburn said the turnout was encouraging, but he was unsure how much his state representatives would hear. His brother, Jose, agreed.

“I wish for a better future and respect for everyone,” Jose said. “But in the congress, some of them think one way and the others think the other way, so I don’t know who’s with us.”

Representatives from participating organizations like Sacramento Area Congregations Together and Placer People of Faith Together asked attendees to contact their local representatives and invited them to participate in upcoming campaign efforts.