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Cars to caravan to peaceful rally next Monday to support nationwide immigration reform

Lower Valley supporters of immigration reform are being asked to join a car caravan Monday, May 1, that will begin at Grandview and end at Miller Park in Yakima, where a peaceful march and rally will take place at 4 p.m.

"The lead car will leave Grandview at 1:30 p.m. and, as it comes to each point along the way, following groups will fall in," said Alex Santillanes, director of Barrios Unidos of Yakima, who is helping coordinate the caravan.

"We will carpool as much as we can and we are looking at safety as one of the big issues," said Santillanes. "We have caravan contact persons at each point to give those in the caravan safety information and rules of conduct.

"We don't want people, who see the caravan and don't know what we're doing, to think we're just a bunch of people getting on the highway and driving up there like a bat out of hell-no, no-and we want those in the caravan not to react to unruly people. We just want a peaceful caravan," Santillanes emphasized.

He said that the Washington State Patrol, Yakima County Sheriff's Office and police chiefs in every town along the way have been notified that the caravan will be driving from Grandview to Yakima May 1.

He said the peaceful caravan, march and rally are being organized by the Yakima County Coalition for Immigration Reform, a group of what Santillanes describes as composed of various organizations, communities and individuals.

"Not any one individual or any one group is organizing this. It's a coalition," he said.

Drivers who want to join the caravan are invited to gather at any one of the following five meeting points:

-1:30 p.m., I-82 Exit 75, at Centex on County Line Road.

-1:50 p.m., I-82 Exit 69, at the Shell station in front of Burger King in Sunnyside.

-2:10 p.m., I-82 Exit 58, Conoco station next to Highway I-82.

-2:30 p.m., I-82 Exit 54, Shell station, in front of El Porton, Zillah/Toppenish.

-2:45 p.m., I-82 Exit 44, Shell station (fruit stand), Wapato.

To reach Miller Park, the caravan will leave I-82 at Exit 33 to Yakima city center, turning right on North Third Street and continuing straight to E Street and the park. Arrival time is estimated at 3:15 p.m.

Drivers of cars in the caravan are asked to follow the instructions that will be given them by a contact person at each departure site. Drivers should have license, registration and insurance, use seat belts and car seats if children are along and drive with the car lights on. They should also stay in the right lane on I-82, maintaining the speed limit of 65-70 mph.

"They should have an emergency kit in the car and a cell phone, if possible," Santillanes noted. "And they should not block the driver's view with flags or banners."

In an emergency, drivers are asked to exit their vehicles only from the passenger side.

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