by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--The so-called "Freedom Bus" hit the road early Thursday morning from Dallas and made a brief stop in Odessa to pick up more passengers. The traveling caravan is part of a LULAC campaign. Their final stop, Phoenix, where that controversial law was passed.
One of the 43 passengers, who came to Odessa from Dallas, described the mood inside the bus as electric. After a brief stop for lunch and comments to the media, they loaded up 7 more passengers and hit the road again.
With signs and flags in hand, opponents of SB 1070 stepped off the bus with chants of "together for change, together for reform." They say they won't stop fighting until lawmakers hear their cries for true immigration reform.
"Justice delayed is justice denied. We have 14-15 million immigrants, 99% who work hard, looking for the American dream, half of them are children. All they are looking for is an opportunity to become American citizens," Domingo Garcia, President of LULAC Council #102 in Dallas and organizer of the Freedom Caravan, said.
Peter Johnson of Dallas has been down this road once before. He walked along side Martin Luther King, Jr. in an historic march for equal rights.
"Martin Luther King made a very profound statement. He said injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere. The threat to people, who happen to be brown skinned people, threatens all of us," Johnson said.
Johnson says much like the days of Rosa Parks, there can be no justice without mercy. And this fight isn't one about color, "This is just not a fight for immigration. This is a fight for the heart and soul of America. This is about justice."
But not everyone that showed up at La Margarita Restaurant, came to cheer the travelers on. Some, like Eddy Layman of Odessa, applaud the State of Arizona.
"I'm totally for legal immigration. I think everyone should be a law abiding citizen. If we, in the United States should have to show I. D., I think everyone should," Laymen said.
The sign on Layman's pick-up was a one of solidarity with other supporters of SB 1070.
"(Wednesday) I saw where Los Angeles boycotted Arizona. I don't see why they should boycott Arizona, they're upholding the law," Laymen explained.
Rallies and events are planned at all the stops along the route to Phoenix. They hope, when everything is said and done, their efforts will have been for something good.
"It's time for immigration reform. If Ronald Reagan can pass it in '86, President Obama and Republicans can pass it in 2010," Garcia said.
The group's ultimate destination is Washington D.C. Council members say they have asked the National LULAC President to try to arrange a meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss immigration reform.