S. Fla. activists take part in a caravan to urge for speedy immigration reform

Immigration activists in Miami on Wednesday marked International Workers Day with a vehicle caravan from Little Havana to Doral to urge Congress to speed immigration reform and President Barack Obama to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Demonstrators who rode in the vehicles said Obama should suspend deportations with an executive order that should only be lifted after legislators approve comprehensive immigration reform.

“We want concrete action, and the clearest message will be for President Obama, that if he’s serious about our community, he has to issue an executive order stopping all deportations of undocumented immigrants,” said Francisco Portillo, president of the Francisco Morazan Honduran Organization, a pro-immigrant lobbying group that helped organize the motorcade.

“We want comprehensive immigration reform now with a path to citizenship,” he told participants.

The procession of at least 15 cars and SUVs ended at the offices of Cuban-American Republicans Sen. Marco Rubioand Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart at the junction of Northwest 87th Avenue and 36th Street in Doral.

The demonstration departed from the parking lot of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church at 2987 West Flagler Street, proceeded west on Flagler Street, turned right on 87th Avenue, and ended with a candlelit vigil on the side of the road next to the building where the lawmakers’ offices are located. The caravan was one of several similar rallies and demonstrations by pro-immigration advocacy groups throughout the United States to push for reforms.

Activists said Rubio had been instrumental in pushing the bipartisan immigration-reform bill in the U.S. Senate and that their vigil was a way to show they support his initiative, but it was also a nudge for him to speed the legislation.

“These congressmen need to accelerate the immigration reform,’’ said Herman Martinez, a social advocate with the American Friends Service Committee. “Without it, it will be difficult for the 11 million undocumented immigrants to live and work. They may end up being deported. Family separation happens every day, we don’t want that.”

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