The call for immigration reform is now headed on the road. Local groups came together Monday for the three-day "Keeping Families Together" bus tour. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on March 4, 2013.
Min Ji Lee and Jonathan Arias are putting faces on the statistics. They want to tell their stories, and the stories of their parents in many cases.
Participants in the "Keeping Our Families Together" bus tour say they want to ensure they can stay in the U.S. with their loved ones. And they're willing to speak out in public to make their cases.
"I was one year old when I got here and I feel like this is my country, too," said Arias.
"I came here when I was three, so I don't have any memory of Korea," said Min Ji Lee. "This is my home."
Maria Galvan, her husband and two daughters came to the US from Mexico 13 years ago. She said they work hard, pay taxes but feel incomplete.
"I want to keep my family together," said Galvan. "We have careers and we can't work here legally so that is why we need immigration reform."
Now activists like Galvan will take their call for reform on the road. The first stop on their statewide bus tour was the Westside office of Sen. Diane Feinstein.
"A lot of the families are mixed status so you will have a citizen, a resident, a temporary worker and undocumented person all in one family," said caravan participant Wendy Carillo. "We want a pathway to legalization for the 11 million undocumented people that are currently living in the shadows here in the U.S. Unless that is part of the deal then we are not ready to stop fighting."
Members of Congress and President Barack Obama have recently proposed or made changes to immigration policies, including allowing family members applying for Visas to stay in the country during the process.
"I'm so thankful and grateful," said Lee. "But it is not enough we need a permanent solution."
The tour will last three days and go through cities in Northern and Southern California. There will be one final stop for some in Washington, D.C.
Feinstein offered the group her support, releasing a statement that said in part, "a pathway to citizenship is a critical component of any immigration reform proposal."