About 150 people led 15 "pilgrims" into Fresno on Saturday, walking in solidarity to support comprehensive immigration reform.
The Fresno walkers joined the small group -- who began their walk in Sacramento and will end it in Bakersfield -- for an eight-mile stretch through the city. They stopped at a Fresno church to talk about their concerns and vision for America.
"This isn't just a Latino issue, it's a justice issue and a values issue," said 38-year-old JePahl White, who helped organize the event with the group Faith in Community.
One young woman who plans to walk the entire 285-mile march, deemed the "Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship," said Saturday that her family came to America to fulfill dreams they couldn't in their home nation.
"We are here for all these dreamers," said Estefany Mendez, 24, of Contra Costa County. "We are seeking an earned pathway to citizenship."
Fresno City Council Member Oliver Baines, who attended Saturday's rally, said he was happy to see a large multi-ethnic Fresno crowd come out to support immigration reform advocates.
"There are people here in this country who want to be here and be a citizen," Baines said. "I support a way to actually do that -- a pathway that doesn't take a decade to become a citizen."
Fresno Bishop Armando Ochoa and the Rev. Booker T. Lewis II were among many speakers at Saturday's event held at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in northwest Fresno.
"There are 11 million people living and working and hiding in the shadows of freedom and democracy," Lewis said. "Allowing this problem to fester is an act of inhumanity and injustice."
Said Ochoa: "They are not breaking the law -- the law is breaking them."
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