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San Diego Among Cities To Participate In Countrywide Call For Immigration Reform

San Diego immigration reform advocates plan to march Saturday from Balboa Park to the county administration building to urge Congress to get back to work on passing comprehensive immigration reform.

Rallies and marches for immigration reform are planned for cities across the country on Saturday. Despite the attention on the government shutdown and looming debt limit, advocates hope a solution to those two problems could come in the form of an immigration reform bill.

Despite the government shutdown, advocates are still hopeful that Congress could pass a bill this year that would include improved border security and a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

Andrea Guerrero, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group, Alliance San Diego, said if Congress can come to an agreement to reopen the government and avoid a default on its debt, a vote on immigration reform could follow.

“We need for the Republicans to open the door to allow a bill to come to the floor,” Guerrero said.

House Speaker John Boehner has thus far refused to let an immigration reform bill get to the House floor, invoking an internal guideline called the "Hastert rule." The "rule," which some say is really just an idea, suggests the House speaker shouldn't allow a floor vote on any bill that doesn't have support from a majority of the Republican party.

The Hastert rule is being widely cited as one reason Boehner hasn't acted to end the government shutdown. If the House manages to set aside the rule in order to pass a budget and reopen the government, Guerrero from Alliance San Diego hopes immigration reform might also slip through for a vote.

“If that were to happen, we have the votes to pass a bill," she said. "That gives me hope, that should give everyone hope, and it’s just a matter of timing.”

After House Republicans failed to produce an immigration reform bill or vote on the Senate's bill, which passed in June, House Democrats presented their own bill this week. As of Friday, it had 120 co-sponsors.

Guerrero said immigration reform advocates shouldn’t give up.

“Look, I know people are tired, but I think it’s important to take a historical view about this struggle,” Guerrero said.

“When you think about the civil rights march that happened 50 years ago this year, I mean, they marched in August of 1963 and they didn’t get the Civil Rights Act until the spring of 1964.”

It may take that long, or longer for comprehensive immigration reform, Guerrero said.

In the meantime, those pushing for immigration reform hope to renew pressure on Congress by staging marches across the country this weekend. They’re following up with a rally at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.

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