Veterans call for action on immigration bill

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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Military veterans gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall today to urge action on a bill that would overhaul the country’s immigration laws.

Ricardo Reyes, a Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was among the members of “Veterans for Citizenship” who gathered to demand action on an immigration bill pending in Congress.

“It’s time for our Congressional leadership to put politics aside and put our national security first by acting on comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship,” Reyes said.

In June, the U.S. Senate approved immigration legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of people living in the country illegally. But Republican leaders in the House have condemned the bill, with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, saying it was unlikely the bill would ever come up for consideration.

Reyes said allowing those serving in the armed forces to “earn full status as Americans will strengthen our security.”

“What’s more, our nation will be stronger on the home front when our economy can fully benefit from the talents, hard work, and spending power of our immigrant families,” Reyes said.

Veteran Duane Goff denounced efforts by the U.S. government to deport veterans who lacked legal immigration status, calling immigration laws “broken” and “un-American.”

Such deportation “hurts us veterans,” he said. “We never leave a brother on the battlefield.”

A large percentage of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are “American in every sense of the word, save one,” he said, and are “passionate” about their patriotism.

Groups hoping to seize momentum from last week’s approval of AB 60, a state bill allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, are clamoring for action on the pending immigration bill.

A coalition of groups called “Millions of Voices for Immigration Reform” are planning marches across the nation this Sunday, with one contingent expected to march along Broadway in downtown Los Angeles from Olympic Boulevard, toward First and Temple streets.

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