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C. Oregonians stage march for immigration reform

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Sep 16 2013 01:37:47 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 16 2013 01:53:34 AM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent spoke with protesters and rally organizers about their fight against current immigration laws and their message to Rep. Greg Walden.

MADRAS, Ore. -

Signs, flags, chants and drums -- the classic parts of a rally. Dozens of Central Oregonians set the beat on Sunday to begin a three-day, 42-mile walk and send a message to Rep. Greg Walden and the rest of America.

It's a march from Madras to Bend, demanding change to immigration laws.

"This is urgent, because every day, over 1,000 people are being deported," said Central Oregon Causa community organizer Greg Delgado.

For 31-year-old undocumented Bend resident Gerardo Zuniga, the message behind the walk hits close to home.

"If my family members were to be deported, that would tear the family apart," Zuniga said.  "The kids, especially my little brother, would be stuck here."

It's called the "Walk for Citizenship," led by Causa, a statewide organization supporting Latino immigrant rights.

The group is headed south along Highway 97 for three days, stopping in Culver, Redmond, and finally ending the march at Walden's office in Bend.

"We need to really partner up with our Republican delegates, and make sure they are with us on this issue, because we know they're going to be important deciders for what happens, and we know he (Walden) is a key voice," said Causa Director of Civic Engagement Reyna Lopez.

Currently,  Zuniga is going through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals--also known as DACA -- a memorandum signed by President Obama last year, allowing undocumented residents who came to the U.S. as children and are now pursuing education or military service to legally obtain work in the U.S.

Still. he says there's always a cloud of fear and uncertainty hanging over his family.

"My mom can't drive around," Zuniga said.  "And my dad's the only one who has a license, currently. If my mom was to drive and get pulled over, she would be detained and be deported. It's a hard situation to be in."

That's the life for thousands of undocumented Central Oregonians, millions in the U.S., and a couple dozen people sporting butterflies in their walk across the High Desert.

"(Our symbol is) a migrant butterfly,"Delgado said. "The monarch butterfly is a symbol of migration -- that is natural to our human race, and it's just a beautiful symbol for us."

For more information on the walk visit: http://causaoregon.org/walkforcitizenship/

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