by Rina Nakano
SACRAMENTO -- Not everyone marching at the Capitol Wednesday was a U.S. Citizen, but all 1,500 of them are proud Californians.
"I went through tough times myself, me and my family, when we came to the States," Mario Fuentes said.
Fuentes drove from Los Angeles to march and rally at the Capitol to share his story with state legislators. He is a former refugee from El Salvador. He fears President Donald Trump’s immigration and deportation policies will hurt families.
"I would say 99 percent of those families are good families. Hard working families. Just like my family," Fuentes said.
The crowd of marchers urged lawmakers to support SB 54, commonly referred to as the "Sanctuary State Bill."
Right now, California cannot stop federal immigration officers from conducting deportation raids. But if the measure is approved, the state can prevent local peace officers from helping the feds enforce immigration laws.
Supporters said this would keep undocumented families together.
"Ensure that ICE is out of our prisons, out of our schools, out of our public spaces, in an effort to make sure families are protected across the state that are immensely threatened by deportation and separation," Joseph Mckella, Co-Director of PICO California said.
The organization is the largest multi-racial, faith-based community organizing networks in the state. However, the California Sheriff's Association has expressed their stance against SB 54, saying cooperation between local and federal agencies is necessary to arrest criminals.
The marchers also advocated for the support of SB 31 -- a bill that would do away with any religious registries, commonly referred as President Trump's "Muslim ban."
"I believe that they deserve the same respect and regulation that I enjoy, being a Christian myself," Fuentes said.
In 1995, Fuentes finally became a U.S. citizen. Since then, he has dedicated his life to protecting immigrant families, and he said he will never stop.
"I've been in their shoes. I know what it's like to be undocumented. It's the most vulnerable of feelings and emotions, It's not my change to extend my hand to help those behind me," Fuentes said.
Both bills still have a long way to go. Lawmakers are reaching out to opposition groups, and are working on amendments.