LOS ANGELES (AP) — About 2,000 supporters of immigration reform marched through Hollywood on Saturday as part of rallies nationwide to push for congressional action, while California’s governor signed a series of bills on the topic, saying he was not going to wait on Washington.
The Los Angeles demonstration called “March of the Stars” kicked off shortly after Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that included a bill prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from detaining people for deportation if they are arrested for a minor crime and otherwise eligible to be released from custody.
“While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead,” Brown said. “I’m not waiting.”
March organizers in Los Angeles had expected tens of thousands to turn out to the rally, which was among some 150 demonstrations on a day billed as the “National Day for Dignity and Respect.” Roughly 2,000 people participated, some holding signs that read “Education Not Deportation” and “Congress get back to work!” Others carried elephant pinatas, blaming the impasse on Republicans.
The mobilization is a prelude to a rally and free concert Tuesday on the National Mall in Washington.
Immigration has been a rare area of bipartisan cooperation. Confidence was boosted earlier in the year on a sweeping overhaul of the system and a path to citizenship for millions, but the crisis over Syria, and now the partial shutdown of the federal government, has diverted lawmakers’ attention.
The chances an immigration bill makes its way through Congress before the year ends are slim. But advocates want to make sure reform stays front and center despite lawmakers’ pressing concerns.
“This cannot be stopped,” said activist Eliseo Medina, marching in Los Angeles. “This is growing.”
The Alliance for Citizenship, a broad coalition of organizations that includes the AFL-CIO, the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, is driving the mobilization.
Twenty cities in California were staging events Saturday to show their support.
Among the eight immigration-related measures Brown signed was AB4, sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, which creates a statewide standard for how local agencies comply with the federal Secure Communities program, which requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone who is arrested.
The governor vetoed a similar measure last year because it did not let officials detain those convicted of crimes such as child abuse and drug trafficking, exemptions that were removed from this year’s version.
The governor also approved a bill allowing lawyers to be admitted to the California bar even if they are living in the U.S. illegally.
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