Immigration reform supporters, opponents rally at Rep. Miller’s office

Immigration reform supporters, opponents rally at Rep. Miller’s office

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — Scores of advocates on both sides of the national immigration issue converged Friday at the office of a local congressman to rally their causes.

About two dozen immigration reform advocates from the Justice for Immigration Coalition are asking Rep. Gary Miller, R-Rancho Cucamonga, to support legislation that would allow a path for citizenship for 11 million undocumented citizens.

“I’m here in support of a new law on immigration because the one that we have does not answer the needs of the people,” said San Bernardino County Diocese Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio Del Riego, who came on behalf of the diocese in support of immigration reform. “We need a new law on immigration that is comprehensive, not piece by piece, and includes the path to citizenship and contributes to the unity of families.”

Benjamin Wood, an organizer with the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, and the Rancho Cucamonga Day Laborers, had a petition signed by nearly 700 in San Bernardino County to show the congressman “how much the folks in his district support immigration reform.”

“There’s too many people living in the shadows, and it’s time for people to participate fully in a society that they’ve been a part of for a number of years,” Wood said.

Also at Miller’s office on Friday were about two dozen supporters of legal immigration and jobs for American workers. Among them were anti-illegal immigration advocates, including those from the Claremont-based We The People California’s Crusader, who are against legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens.

Vicky Arzaga-Chapman of Rancho Cucamonga is involved with the group.

“I understand that they want citizenship,” said Arzaga-Chapman. “I’m Filipino and I have a lot of friends who became legal U.S. citizens, but you have to go about it the right way. I don’t begrudge any of them, but they need to go the legal route, and I’m not talking about changing the laws to have them become citizens.”

Rancho Cucamonga resident John Batten, who was with the group of anti-illegal immigration advocates, said he was rallying for American workers.

“We have over 22 million unemployed Americans and American veterans. I want to see them get jobs, not somebody who comes across the border illegally. I’m all for immigration — that’s what made this country great. We have to have legal immigration and we need jobs for Americans.”

Chris Marsh, district director for Miller, said the congressman agrees “the system is badly broken in need of fixing” but is focusing on two priorities right now as far as the immigration debate goes.

Marsh said Miller’s priorities are “making sure American jobs are preserved for American workers,” and to strengthen the nation’s borders and coastlines.

“Once those priorities are met, we can discuss all other aspects of the immigration debate,” Marsh said.

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