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San Diegans Rally For Immigration Reform

— As President Barack Obama begins his second term, immigrant rights activists are looking to capitalize on his more liberal agenda. At a rally in San Diego, Democratic Mayor Bob Filner said we have to change the way we think about the border.

Immigrant rights activists in San Diego rallied today in support of a federal immigration overhaul.

Photo by Katie Orr

San Diego Mayor Bob FIlner address a crowd of Immigrant rights activists on Jan. 22, 2013.

"We want to look at the border as the center," he said, "and not the cul-de-sac of our community."

Filner, who represented San Diego's South Bay communities in the House of Representatives for 20 years, said no single component of immigration reform will get passed by Congress. Filner said the key to reforming the country’s immigration policy is taking a comprehensive approach.

"Comprehensive means looking at enforcement, it means looking at legalization in a much different way," he said. "It means (giving) people the opportunity to work."

Filner plans to open an office in Tijuana in February.

Activists say they’re working with the Senate on federal reform. Christian Ramirez, of a group called Alliance San Diego, said the legislation should include a pathway to citizenship, accountability for border enforcement agencies and labor protections for migrant workers and their families.

"All people in the U.S. should be able to live with dignity and respect regardless of their immigration status," he said. He was flanked by banners that read: "No human being is illegal'' and "Control the Border Patrol.''

"Yesterday, President Obama spoke about the need for immigration reform and today we know that as immigrants in this country, we cannot do it alone,'' Ramirez said. "It takes a broad coalition of elected officials, labor leaders, faith leaders to come together and to ensure that our country affords all people the rights and the dignity that a democratic society is built upon.''

Ramirez said his organization and similar groups have been discussing the issue with senators and would soon turn their attention toward members of the House of Representatives, including newly seated San Diego Democratic representatives Scott Peters and Juan Vargas.

He said the activists have been told that they will need support from local leaders if an immigration bill is to pass Congress.

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