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Local groups host immigration rally

Virginia Organizing, local faith groups collaborate with national event

Immigration reform proponents rallied in front of the Albermarle County Office Building Monday evening to advocate making it easier for undocumented individuals to gain citizenship.

Volunteers took to McIntire and Preston Avenues in an effort to raise awareness, said Kristen Schenk, coordinator of justice and charity at the Church of the Incarnation — one of the rally’s organizers, along with Virginia Organizing, Casa Alma Catholic Worker and Sin Barreras Community Center.

“This is a local way of summoning support in this area,” Schenk said, “[The event is] aimed at people who want to see a more just way of integrating our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

Sylvia, a first-time demonstrator, immigrant and Spanish speaker, said through an interpreter she was very excited to take part in the demonstration — adding, in English, she would go to one “every day” if possible.

Immigration reform and a more efficient path to citizenship is necessary to ensure better treatment of undocumented workers, Schenk said.

“We have a system that continues to create hardship, pain and injustice for millions of people,” she said. “We cannot continue to support a system that takes advantage of the ways that immigrants contribute to society while refusing to affirm what they do bring.”

Immigration reform is a frequently debated topic at the state and national levels, said Tim Freilich, legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center, an immigrant advocacy program.

“We are as close as we’ve come, and I think something is going to happen.” Freilich said, “Our main goal is to make sure that [a reform] includes a short and direct path to citizenship for the estimated 11.1 million folks who are not yet citizens and who are not yet legal permanent residents.”

The Charlottesville rally was held in conjunction with several other immigration reform events across the United States occurring throughout the first third of the month, culminating with a large rally on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on April 10.