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9/8: Chanting 'Si se puede,' hundreds march in Sacramento for immigration reform
Released 08 September 2009  By Gina Kim

Chanting 'Si se puede,' hundreds march in Sacramento for immigration reform

By Gina Kim

Published: Sunday, Sep. 6, 2009 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

Under signs stating "Protect our families" and "We contribute to America," several hundred people marched Saturday through downtown Sacramento, urging President Barack Obama to make good on his campaign promise of comprehensive immigration reform.

"Immigration reform is about making America stronger," Sacramento Catholic Bishop Jaime Soto said during a bilingual rally interspersed with chants of "Si se puede," translated roughly as, "Yes, we can."

The march began at Southside Park, stopped at the immigration offices in the John E. Moss Federal Building along the Capitol Mall and ended on the steps of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament at 11th and K streets.

Several reform bills have been introduced in Congress, but their future remains unclear. Obama has said he supports reform, but he recently said his administration is dealing with other priorities.

A wave of opposition is expected to impede the president's call for some form of legalization for millions of immigrants.

Brian Heller de Leon said current immigration policy is piecemeal and divides families. Heller de Leon helped put together Saturday's march. He's a community organizer with Sacramento Area Congregations Together, a group of 40 schools and churches.

"It's a matter of what is right, what is fair," he said. "Everybody is losing in the current system."

Laura Rico is raising four children alone.

Rico, 40, a secretary at a Sacramento charter school, immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 8. She became a citizen 12 years ago.

She fell in love with the owner of a San Jose auto detailing shop when he stood by her side through breast cancer treatment at age 29.

But immigration authorities caught up with Daniel Rico and he was deported last year. He tried to sneak across the border again, in time to be with his family for Christmas. He is now in a federal prison in Kansas until 2011.

"It's just the pain I see the children go through it's devastating," Laura Rico said. "To others, he may be a criminal. But to me, he's a hero. You have so many parents who walk away from their children,and he tried to come back."

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