Immigration Reform Protest In Gulfport

Hundreds of people, including many children and teenagers, marched through the streets of Gulfport demanding what our Declaration of Independence guarantees - liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And they feel they may not get this guarantee if a bill that would make it a felony to be in this country illegally is passed.

"It's really hypocritical for us to say, 'Come and clean up our coast. Come and do our roofs. Come and do all these jobs here on the coast,' and then sign a bill saying, 'We're gonna criminalize you for being here.' They've brought people down here at the promise of wages, and the promise of housing and the promise of food, and they have left them out in the cold. We've got people that we find on the streets every day that, now they're homeless, now they're without any food, and now they are in danger of being criminalized," said Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance representative Victoria Cintra.

And according to Cintra and the other demonstrators, that is not fair.

That's why the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, or MIRA, sponsored Saturday's rally to get the message across that immigrants want the same rights as the next person.

"To be able to work and to earn more. I mean, we work really hard," said one immigrant worker.

Cintra says there were thousands of immigrants on the coast before Katrina, and the majority of them had documentation. But Katrina destroyed many of their documents. And with local immigration offices destroyed, quite a few lives within the immigrant community are hanging in the hands of the U.S. government.

She hopes our government makes the right decision.

"These people want the same kind of dream that we have in America. America was built on immigrant labor from day one, and we cannot forget that."