Valley activists hope to push focus back on immigration reform

FRESNO, Calif.

But Valley activists are hoping to push the focus back on immigration reform.

Immigration rights advocates gathered outside a small-business in Northwest Fresno Monday morning calling on Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform. "Don't ignore immigration reform. Don't ignore what's happening to hundreds of immigrants, to 11 million of immigrants in the U.S." said Leonel Flores with the May Day Coalition, an immigrants rights group.

Community and small-business leaders are demanding immigration be a top issue as the House returns from its summer recess. Supporters say immigration reform will bring people out of the shadows while bringing dollars into the Fresno economy. "There are currently people that can't work and can't produce income or they're working under the table," said John Hernandez, former president of the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "It will bring those dollars up and into the system, which will help the economy here locally."

But the House is slated to take on the Syrian crisis and some Valley leaders fear the immigration bill will be pushed back once again. "It's time that our Congress take responsibility to deal with its issues, even if there are world crisis," said Manuel Cunha with the Nisei Farmers League.

Cunha said postponing immigration will hurt the Valley's Ag sector that has already undergone a labor shortage due to fears of deportations. "Some folks are saying we got to deal with that and we're not going to deal with immigration now. Well that's a copout. If we can't deal with our own country issues at the same time we have world issues to deal with, that's a pretty sad state for our Congress," said Cunha.

Ag leaders say they'd like to see an immigration bill by the end of the month and signed into law by the end of the year. But at this point, it's unclear if that timeline can be met.

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