UFW Co-Founder in Fresno Pushing Immigration Reform

May 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dolores Huerta's appearance in Fresno on the same day as an immigration rights march was purely coincidental. But in the struggle for immigration reform Huerta said demonstrators need to educate themselves on the political process. "People have to understand that it's not enough to march."

Huerta marched alongside Cesar Chavez in founding the United Farmworkers in 1962. But she said marches can only draw attention to issues. Huerta said "Nothing is gonna change unless we do the direct political action, which means, number one putting the pressure on the congressional representatives, especially that are anti-immigrant."

Huerta's message of hope drew a standing ovation at Fresno City College. She told students "So we have these 12-million or so undocumented workers in the United States. What are they doing? They're picking the food we ate today."

The 77-year old Huerta figures it will be a few years after the presidential election before we see comprehensive immigration reform.

Fresno City College Political Science instructor Mark Trezza says President Bush's push for reform was undermined by fellow republicans. Trezza said "Those who see the issue really in stark terms as, if you're here illegal, that's the end of the discussion. There should be no amnesty or whatever we want to call it. There should be no path or process to citizenship."

Trezza doesn't think an amnesty program will be part of the eventual solution. He said "That you're going to go to the back of the line and there will be provisions for what those provisions are. Could be fines, could be learning English. You may have wait a period of time. All those sorts of steps."

Dolores Huerta suggests a temporary fix. She said "We could issue them a temporary visa for the next 2-3 years until we get the immigration bill settled."

Huerta reminded students at FCC that in 1986 amnesty was granted to three-million undocumented workers in the U.S. Over twenty years later she says a similar plan should be enacted.

The issue though continues to generate heated debates.


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