May Day rally expects large numbers in Downtown Fresno

May 1, 2013 12:19:55 AM PDT
May Day rallies are planned across U.S. cities and advocates are hoping this is the year a comprehensive immigration bill makes its way to the President's desk.

In past years, May 1st has brought out thousands of people out of the shadows to march in support of immigration reform. And this year won't be any different in Fresno.

Leonel Flores is the chair of the May First Coalition. He said he expects to see more people gather in front of the Fresno County Courthouse this year than in previous years because of the political climate. "It is time to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Obama is ready to sign it," said Flores.

At a White House press briefing Tuesday morning, President Obama expressed his support for the bipartisan bill introduced by the Senate earlier this month. "There are elements of it that I would change. But I do think that it meets the basic criteria that I laid out," said Obama.

Those elements include increased border security and a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

"I think the President's message does give that he's supporting this and he's wanting to get this done and on his desk over the next several months," said Manuel Cunha with the Nisei Farmers League. He helped broker the Senate proposal and says the bill will alleviate the labor shortage in the Valley. "In agriculture, at least the farmers will know that the workers will be here the next morning ? rather than uncertainty every day, knowing that some community could have gotten busted or hauled off," said Cunha, referring to those workers deported.

As for Wednesday's march in Downtown Fresno, organizers say they are ready for the large crowds. "We have all the permits from the County and the city of Fresno. We have good collaboration with Fresno Police Department," said Flores.

The march will begin at 6 p.m. in front of the Fresno County Courthouse with events starting as early at 4 p.m.

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