Preparations have been made for a pro-immigration reform rally in Bakersfield Wednesday that organizers say will draw thousands of people from across the state.
A coalition of groups including the United Farm Workers union and the Service Employees International Union plans to gather for a 1,100-vehicle caravan through the city, followed by a rally at Yokuts Park and a march to the office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.
No road closures are expected. A Bakersfield Police Department spokeswoman said officers will monitor the event but that the agency does not expect to make special traffic accommodations.
The stage was set July 11 when the group calling itself California Table staged a 50-person event in front of McCarthy's office on Empire Drive. Organizers promised then to hound McCarthy until he pushes for a full vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on a comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June.
McCarthy, the third most powerful Republican in the House, issued a statement last month ruling out a vote on the Senate version but holding out hope for "fixing" what he called a broken immigration system. Before that can happen, he stated, the nation's borders must be secured.
According to a UFW news release, pro-reform groups from as far away as Napa will meet at 10 a.m. at the Target at 1300 Wible Road. Their "caravan" through city streets is to begin at 11 a.m., followed by a noon rally at Yokuts Park. At 1 p.m. they plan to march to McCarthy's office, 4100 Empire Drive, Suite 150.
Bakersfield's Recreation & Parks Department has granted the SEIU a half-day reservation at the park. A department supervisor said the union paid $1,105 to reserve the park; that consisted of a $500 damage deposit, a $450 reservation fee; a $125 special event fee; and a $30 sound permit.
The name of the event is "The Path to Citizenship Goes through Bakersfield."