RENO, Nev. - On May Day groups in cities across the country gathered to shine the spotlight on immigration reform. Several hundred people gathered in Reno's City Plaza Wednesday afternoon.
“We are trying to send a strong message to Congress that we need immigration reform and the time is now,” Cory Hernandez of Immigration Reform for Nevada said. “We cannot keep ignoring that our system is broken and those 11 million undocumented citizens – because they are citizens, they're paying taxes and raising families – are ignored. We cannot ignore the problem; we need to fix it.”
Last week a bipartisan group of Senators released an 844-page immigration bill that would include a pathway to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants. It also includes the DREAM Act, legislation that would pave the way to citizenship for illegal youth who are attending college or joining the military.
“We have a strong need for DREAMers,” Hernandez said. “We have college students that are joining us today that love this country, that are going to school and want to give back to the community. They want to get their degrees and get to work so this means more jobs for Nevada, this means a better economy for Nevada, that's why they're here.”
20-year-old Gabriela Garcia is one of those students. She's studying international business at Truckee Meadows Community College.
“I want to make my dream come true,” Garcia said. “I want to study abroad, study everywhere and bring my family along and that can only happen if there is immigration reform. There are many of us and many are still hiding in the shadows but I'm one of them that's undocumented and unafraid.”
Several local groups showed their support for the legislation.
“There are dozens of different groups here and that just goes to show you this is not a partisan political issue,” Pam duPre of the Democratic Party of Washoe County said. “This is not an issue that belongs to one group or one ethnicity; this is an issue that belongs to our country and the workers of America. We need that pathway to citizenship to get out of the shadows and contribute to this country.”
After the rally organizers took their message to the streets of downtown Reno.
Senator Harry Reid attended a similar rally in Las Vegas.