Mission Loc@l reporter Rigoberto Hernandez is reporting on the road to the national March For America Campaign. The bus left San Francisco Wednesday and will join others from across the country on March 21 at the National Mall in Washington DC. Their aim is to to ask Congress to pass immigration reform.
Juan Carlos believes in discipline.
He preaches that message at San Dimas, a group that helps at-risk youth and includes some of the roughest gang members in the Mission.
“For everything you do there are consequences,” he said.
This is why he does not feel sorry for them if they are deported after committing a serious felonies.
Shadow, a former MS 13 gang leader in San Francisco who Juan Carlos befriended for seven years, was found in 13 pieces in Guatemala last year.
“Shadow” had made significant progress but relapsed into gang life and was deported for selling drugs, Juan Carlos said.
“I love them to death,” he said. “But these are the rules.”
He does feel badly, however, for the youth, who are reported to immigration at the time of booking for a felony instead of waiting to see if the charges are upheld — a policy in San Francisco since the summer of 2008.
This is one of the reasons why he is on the bus with some 50 others traveling from the Mission District to Washington D.C.: to demand immigration reform, he said.
The other is because he doesn’t want more people to die in the desert like his friend did three years ago in the Arizona desert.
“A feeling of sadness takes over me every time I hear someone crossing the desert,” he said
Juan Carlos, 35, said the seven-day trip is worth it and the 23 youth on board have really inspired him.
He plans to take back the stories from this trip to the 7,000 SEIU workers where he is on the board of directors.
By Saturday morning we will have traveled 2,500 miles and we’ll be eating breakfast in a church in Columbus, Ohio.
It will be the last stop before reaching our final destination: Washington D.C. where immigrant rights activists will march for comprehensive immigration reform on Sunday.
Along the way we have stopped in what seems to be randomly selected places — not so: Each stop is significant, according to the organizers from PICO, a network of faith-based organizations, who put the trip together.
San Francisco: Picked up nine people from San Francisco Organizing Project and 13 from Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action.
They held a press conference in front of Senator Barbara Boxer’s office, and since then the senator has agreed to meet PICO representatives.
Oakland: Picked up 20 people from the Oakland Community Organization and held a press conference where they denounced what they called the unfair towing of cars owned by immigrants.
Sacramento: Picked up organizers from the central and Southern California region. One from Bakersfield, two from Sacramento, two from Santa Ana and two from Long Beach. These guys have been on the road even longer.
Reno: PICO is in the process of creating a chapter there and it is a place where Senator Henry Reed, D-Nevada, the highest ranking Democrat in the senate, has an office.
Salt Lake City: A strategical visit. It is the home of Cardinal Francis George of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They are key allies, according to organizers.
Denver: A city with a strong chapter in the PICO network. Five passengers got off the bus to fly to Washington and make room for two additional passengers. At the same time, another bus leaves from Denver.
Kansas City, Missouri: A state where PICO has determined that they can get one senate vote on comprehensive immigration reform.
Cleveland, Ohio: A state that played a key role in determining the next president.