Big rally puts Bakersfield squarely in immigration spotlight

Big rally puts Bakersfield squarely in immigration spotlight »Play Video
Immigration reform advocates rally Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, at Yokuts Park in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Johnny Guillen)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Immigration reform advocates from around the state descended Wednesday on Bakersfield in an effort to make their voices heard by Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy, a Republican and the majority whip.

The California Labor Federation promised more than 1,000 workers and immigration activists would caravan from Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Fresno, Salinas, Modesto and Sacramento to rally at McCarthy's office. The big crowd first gathered at noon at Yokuts Park, and some marched on Bakersfield sidewalks.

People in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, specifically those looking to help immigrants with a path to citizenship, have made a habit lately of protesting outside McCarthy's office because of his political influence.

Representatives for Californians For Population Stabilization, a group on the other side of the immigration debate, also had a presence at Yokuts Park, using the opportunity to make their arguments.

McCarthy has remained mum for the most part on his stance on immigration reform. He was out of town Wednesday, but his office released this statement:

"I think that it is always healthy to have a dialogue on the important issues of the day, and I welcome folks coming to visit Bakersfield. While I have met with many groups across the spectrum of the immigration reform debate, in the end, I value the input of my constituents in the 23rd Congressional District most. I have long said that our immigration system is broken, but rather than take up the Senate bill, the House will move in a step by step approach that first secures the border."

Raw protest video, captured by Eyewitness News anchor Kurt Rivera