03/05/2013 11:08 am ET

Immigrant Families In California Launch Bus Tour To Back Immigration Reform, Pathway To Citizenship

Dozens of families are hitting the road in California to demand immigration reform.

The caravan, which calls itself the “Golden Express Tour,” kicked off in Los Angeles Monday and plans to travel throughout the state pushing for a stop to deportations and a pathway to citizenship for the country’s estimated 11.1 million undocumented immigrants.

The protesters began with a visit to the office of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, where they asked her to back a reform proposal that includes a pathway to citizenship.

The caravan is part of a national effort known as the Keeping Families Together bus tour, with supporters in 90 cities, which plans to finish off in Washington on March 13. The tour aims to tell the stories of families separated by broken immigration policy.

Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles Angelica Salas told Spanish newswire EFE that the participants hope to show legislators how immigrant families “live in fear of losing one of their members.”

“We hope to convince more Republican representatives in California to give us their vote.”

Two of the Keeping Families Together bus tours will meet in Bakersfield, California, at a rally with civil rights leader Dolores Huerta and astronaut Jose Hernandez.

Guatemalan singer and songwriter Ricardo Arjona offered his support to the Keeping Families Together bus tour's efforts in Arizona, playing a concert in Phoenix last week.

The pathway to citizenship has emerged as perhaps the most contentious element of the yet-to-be-filed immigration proposal being hammered out in Congress. The White House says it backs a path to citizenship for the estimated 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the country, as do key senators including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), a key figure in the immigration debate, once opposed the DREAM Act because of its inclusion of a pathway to citizenship, but now supports opening up the possibility of citizenship under strict guidelines.



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