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AUSTIN EDITION Rally urges reform

Group says immigration policies should be more unifying

By Roxana Orellana

rorellana@postbulletin.com

There will be a demonstration urging immigration reform Saturday in Austin.

The demonstration is the second of five in the region organized by El Centro Campesino of Owatonna.

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"We want to let people know that immigrants make a positive impact on the economy, and we have nothing to do with criminals or terrorists," said organizer Victor Contrera.

"We are hard-working people," he said. "And yes, we do pay taxes."

Centro is working with members of the National Coalition for Dignity and Residency to advocate for reforms in Congress.

The center is a migrant farm-worker and rural Latino organization that began in 1998. Its goals are to improve the lives of migrant workers and Latinos in south-central Minnesota and to educate others about the history of Latinos here.

With what they say is an anti-immigration atmosphere at the federal and state levels of government, organizers want to get "the other side of the story" out.

Contrera said organizations such as El Centro Campesino want to see immigration reform that is just and comprehensive.

"The immigration system (now) doesn't work. It's obsolete and old," he said.

Instead of having a system that "attacks" people, advocates want to see one that is understanding and unifies families. Fair and humane immigration reform would include permanent residency and citizenship for immigrants, family reunifications, humane labor conditions, civil rights, respect and dignity, they say.

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Saturday's demonstration will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot near the Mill Pond and Municipal Pool on North Main Street.

A similar demonstration was conducted last Saturday in Rochester. Others are planned for March in Faribault, Northfield and Owatonna.

For more information, call El Centro Campesino at (507) 446-9599.

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