Martha Carrillo and Angel Barrera, two undocumented immigrants, have joined hundreds nationwide in demanding for comprehensive immigration reform during a 19-state bus tour. In sharing their stories, they hope to add weight to their cause and push republican lawmakers to support reform that includes a path to citizenship for an estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants.
Dubbed "Keeping Families Together," the national tour is targeting mostly republican lawmakers in more than 100 congressional districts who sit on the House Judiciary Committee or have spoken on immigration in the past. The 90-city tour, organized by Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a coalition of organizations in 30 states, will also include stops at the offices of 38 senators, including those of the "Gang of Eight," who unveiled an outline for reform earlier this year.
More than 500 immigrants are participating in the tour that is taking place in seven regional stages.
Barrera, 18, boarded the bus at a rally outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) office in Los Angeles. A deferred action applicant, the computer science student wants a permanent solution for himself, his family and all "honest, hardworking immigrants."
"Why beat around the bush?" he said about a temporary fix. "If we're here working, paying taxes and contributing to the economy, give us citizenship."
With a favorable reform, Barrera said that he would be able to attend a better school and visit his family in Mexico, something he hasn't been able to do since he was brought to California 8 years ago.
Carrillo, 50, a victim of domestic violence who has struggled to obtain a legal status, said immigration reform would allow her to find better work, offer her protection under the law and allow her to better provide for her four daughters.
"It makes me sad when I get jobs and they tell me I can't work [because of my status,]" she said.
When she does find work, employers take advantage of her precarious situation by overworking her, she said.
"I have to take a job out of necessity. They abuse me because I lack of papers. I have no other opportunities," she said.
The national tour, which was started February 25, will end in Washington, D.C. on March 13 with 110 immigrants to represent the 1,100 immigrants who are deported daily.