More than 100 people began a trek from the border to Los Angeles Saturday to raise awareness about issues with immigration reform.
Organized by the Christian Community Development Association and supported locally by Border Angels, El Camino del Inmigrante, or “the path of the immigrant,” began with prayers and singing in Friendship Park, which lies on the coast on the border with Mexico.
In keeping with the tradition of the Border Angels group, which has organized previous Caminos, those participating in the walk planted crosses in the sand to honor those who have died crossing borders around the world.
Speakers during the opening festivities called for “humane immigration reform.”
Michelle Warren, one of the event organizers and advocacy and policy engagement director for the Christian Community Development Association, said that the group wanted to start conversations about immigration reform that would address three things: the business and tourist needs of the country, safety and national security, and the needs of the undocumented.
“In the absence of good, dynamic, responsive immigration policy, we’ve created this system with a permanent underclass that are undocumented,” she said, adding that immigrants boost the economy. “How can we look at a person without status and say there’s no way to make yourself right?”
Critics of immigration reform that would open doors for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status, like Rob Luton of the San Diegans for Secure Borders coalition, worry about how much of the country’s resources undocumented and documented immigrants use.
Luton said that while the humanitarian acts like providing clothing to children or putting water out in the desert for those crossing don’t bother him, he disagrees with the policies proposed by groups like Border Angels and the Christian Community Development Association. He worried that school overcrowding and unpaid medical bills at hospitals were at least partially caused by the volume of immigrants in the United States.
“What our group tries to do is take the emotion out of it and look at the numbers,” Luton said in an interview. “I don’t look at any individual as a bad person, but when you look at the big picture, the numbers are too high.”