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Group aims at McKeon in immigration reform push

Posted: July 1, 2013 6:58 p.m.
Updated: July 1, 2013 6:58 p.m.

Alex Reza, left, and Antonio Bernabe lead a group of demonstrators to Howard "Buck" McKeon's office in Stevenson Ranch on Monday to express their concerns about immigration reform. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre

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A pro-immigrant-rights group launched a three-day drive Monday aimed at convincing Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, to support immigration reform legislation as it heads to the House.

About 20 people turned out at McKeon’s Stevenson Ranch office to hold a rally in front of the building and present McKeon’s staff members with information about their group and their beliefs.

“We’re all here fighting for family unity and to keep our families together,” said Zuleyma Barajas, a Van Nuys resident and member of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “That’s our No. 1 priority with immigration reform. We don’t want our families to be torn apart.”

While some members of the group stayed outside and held up banners reading “Vote yes on immigration reform” and “Immigration reform for families,” others went inside and asked to see the congressman, who was still in Washington, D.C.

Michelle Catano was barely able to reach over the counter as she joined her mother in telling McKeon staff members that current immigration policies could force her parents to separate.

“I don’t want my mom to leave,” said the 7-year-old.

The coalition has scheduled more events this week, including a news conference followed by a demonstration beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday outside McKeon’s office and a picnic at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Old Orchard Park.

Sherryan Lima, a local Democratic activist, said the group picked McKeon to lobby because he has said in the past he supports immigration reform.

However, in a statement on his official congressional district website, McKeon says: “First and foremost, I do not support amnesty for those that entered the country illegally. I strongly believe that individuals who came here illegally should not be rewarded for illegal entry.”

After the Democratic-dominated Senate passed immigration reform legislation last month, Republican congressional members scheduled a meeting July 10 to discuss how to approach the topic. The GOP holds the majority in the House.

The Senate version includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers who meet certain standards.

“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” warned House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.




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