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Latino activists board bus to spread message

By Joe Burns
Published On: Mar 11 2013 01:54:39 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 06 2013 08:29:29 PM CST

Local immigration reform proponents hit the road Tuesday. The five day trek on a bus will visit rural communities in Central and Eastern Oregon.

BEND, Ore. -

The March for ONE Oregon bus tour is an effort to advocate to provide 11 million undocumented citizens a path to citizenship. A group of Central Oregon activists boarded the bus that left Bend on Tuesday.

It's a five day tour through cities in Congressman Greg Walden's district.
The group will listen to the concerns and stories of immigrants.

The plan to reach as many as 10,000 people and to bring what they hear, back to Walden.

The day began with a march to Walden's office in Bend and the group there has a message.  

"Ask him to please support legalization with a pathway towards citizenship," said Francisco Lopez, Executive Director of Causa Oregon. "We want it now we don't want to wait next year."

After handing in some letters to Walden's staff, the group then marched down to Trinity Episcopal Church.

Where they were met with a Danza Azteca group from Bend who gave them a blessing for their journey.

"The dialogue about this has been happening in Salem and the Portland-Metro area but this dialogue needs to happen in rural Oregon," said Lopez.

The group will travel to eight cities sharing a bus filled with families and individuals who want to share their story like 22-year-old Antonia Hidalgo of Redmond who has received her legal resident status but whose parents are still undocumented.

"It gives me a bigger hope that I can help my family but I don't want it to just be me, I want my parents," Hidalgo said.

Also on the bus will be Hugo Nicolas from Salem.

"By listening to these stories and having conversations with people that is how we are going to make the change," Nicolas said.

Walden released this statement about the tour: "Our federal immigration system is broken, and fixing it is certainly a priority in the congress. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House have been working on a plan to update our immigration laws for over a year, and I look forward to reviewing their work. As this process moves forward, I value input from Oregonians of all points of view, and I look forward to continuing a dialogue on this complicated issue."

The group on the five day trek is hoping to make sure their voices are heard.

"It's time for things to change," said Kathy Paterno, Board Chair for Rural Organizing Project, one of the groups sponsoring the tour. "This is our way of making it change in a way that's humane that honors human dignity and makes us all welcome all of us as neighbors we are one Oregon."

It's estimated out of the 170,000 Oregon farm workers, about 120,000 are undocumented immigrants.

Those are the people these advocates hope to reach.

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