warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Immigration Reform Rallies L.A. Businesses And Labor Leaders

Zhiqi (Scarlett) Chen |
September 9, 2013 | 4:37 p.m. PDT


(L.A. leaders gather for a path to citizenship/Scarlett Chen, Neon Tommy)
(L.A. leaders gather for a path to citizenship/Scarlett Chen, Neon Tommy)

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angles Federation of Labor held a news conference Monday afternoon to urge House members to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship by the end of 2013.  

International workers, graduates and entrepreneurs help boost the economy in California, according to Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, but restrictions have blocked their ability to make contributions.

Toebben says passing immigration reform with a pass to citizenship will make California a stronger state.

"We [California] have some of the best universities, which means some of the best students come to our universities,” Toebben said. “But after graduation, we tell them to go home. That doesn't make any sense."

The reform will be especially crucial to California since the state has one of the largest numbers of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., according to a report by the CATO Institute.  

Those undocumented immigrants work in almost every section of the economy, especially technology and agriculture. Tobben hopes that soon they can contribute enjoy the country's benefits since they work so hard and are a vital aspect of the economy as a whole.

Rev. Walter Contreras, president of the national Latino Evangelical Coalition, can’t wait for another four years for comprehensive immigration reform. He is concerned about how immigration specifically affects Latino families, stating that more than a million people have been deported during Obama’s last presidency, which has never happened with other presidents.

He argued that instead of deporting them, those undocumented workers could have paid a fee, been put on a path to citizenship and contributed to the U.S. economy.

“As a religious leader, I am asking them [the politicians to make a move,]…[or] people will not vote for you next time,” Contreras said. “Nobody knows the pain that Latinos have had. We want a voice of justice for our people.”

On Oct. 5th, the local labor unions will hold demonstrations throughout the country to further push Congress to act, according to Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor.

In her 15 years fighting for immigration reform, Durazo says there has never been a better time to push this type of reform because they now have support from diverse labor coalitions, which they never had before.

Besides economic, legal, public safety and labor reasons, Durazo also believes that it is immoral for undocumented workers' families to suffer, especially children. Many families are broken up due to deportations, especially in California.

"This is a moral issue," said Durazo. "More than a thousand people are deported every single day. That is more important than anything issue."

 Reach Reporter Zhiqi (Scarlett) Chen here




Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.