A busload of Berkeley students left for Washington D.C. Wednesday morning for the March 21 March for America demonstration at the National Mall.
More than 20 students from the Berkeley public schools, UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University along with members of the Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action boarded the bus from St. Joseph The Worker Church at 10:30 a.m., after waving good-bye to their families, many of them undocumented workers in Berkeley.
The mood was festive with parents giving their children last minute instructions and tips for the road.
Longfellow Middle School sixth grader Felipe Omar Leon and his father Felipe packed their bags as they prepared to take off.
Washington Elementary School fifth grader Sophia Carrillo and LeConte Elementary School fifth grader Rebeca Torres checked out the BOCA banner which decorated the bus with other colorful immigration rights banners and posters.
The group’s first stop is Senator Barbara Boxer’s office in San Francisco, after which they will stop in Nevada, where they are expected to meet with Senator Harry Reed.
Cities taking part in the statewide mobilization include Los Angeles, Salinas, San Jose, San Francisco and San Rafael.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee is trying to coordinate appointments with lawmakers in DC, and has even requested one with President Barack Obama.
“We want to represent the Berkeley community in Washington D.C. and express our concerns on immigration legislation,” said BOCA lead organizer Belen Pulido. “We want to let the Congressmen and senators know that we are not going to rest until a comprehensive immigration reform is passed.”
Thousands of people are expected to gather in the capital Sunday in support of immigration rights.
BOCA, which offers support to immigrant communities in Berkeley, accompanied students to the Berkeley City Council and school board meetings to ask for donations for the trip.
One of the students asking for money, urged city officials to donate to help her “get documents.”
The girl, whose name is not being revealed to protect her identity, is enrolled at a Berkeley public elementary school.
She said that as someone who was born in Mexico and brought up in the United States, she thought of herself as an ‘American girl.”
“I want to get my papers so that I can go to field trips and have fun like my friends,” she said. “I don’t get to go anywhere, and I would like to go on these trips.”
Two of the students in the group, Zelma Munoz of UC Berkeley and Mabel Kimble of SF State, are scheduled to speak at Sunday’s national rally
Father Crespin spoke to the delegation before they left, explaining the importance of their mission, and reminding the children that ... “this is not a vacation. You have taken on this responsibility, and you have a lot of work ahead of you.”
He then blessed their journey.