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By Ruth Brown/ The Californian
BY RUTH BROWN Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Two Bakersfield women were arrested Wednesday after they refused to leave Congressman Kevin McCarthy's local office until he addressed their concerns on immigration reform.
Linda Haggerty and Eloise Elaine Lecain were arrested on suspicion of trespassing after they sat in McCarthy's office from 10 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m. They were ignored the entire time, supporters said.
The women were asked to leave because the office closed at 5 p.m. and they refused to do so, knowing they could be charged with trespassing, said Bakersfield police Lt. Jason Matson.
About 30 people gathered outside the congressman's office in an effort to have McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, schedule a vote on immigration reform.
As officers took Lecain and Haggerty away in handcuffs, loading them into patrol cars, supporters chanted, "We love you." After police left, they chanted, "Give us a vote. Give us a vote."
Vince Fong, spokesman for McCarthy, commented on the incident in an email.
"It is unfortunate that protest groups continue to use occupy tactics in and in front of our office to disrupt services that we are providing to constituents," Fong said. "As we have repeatedly said, the immigration system is broken and our borders must be secured."
Julie Morales, the local organizer for the United Farm Workers Foundation, said she hoped the protest sent a message.
"(There are) undocumented people in America and they're the ones that harvest our food and they're the reason why we eat every day. That is the reason Kevin McCarthy has food on his table every day," Morales said. "We are merely asking if farm workers could work 10 hours a day in the blazing heat ... then why can't he schedule a 10-minute vote?"
Tents were set up on the sidewalk outside McCarthy's office in case supporters needed to stay the night outside the office, but they didn't.
Diana Tellefson Torres, executive director of the UFW foundation, said the sit-in was one of more than a dozen across the U.S. asking for a congressional vote.
"This is an act of civil disobedience, but really this is an issue that is incredibly important, particularly with farmworkers who the vast majority of them are undocumented," said Tellefson Torres. "This is something that is impacting daily lives and we want to make sure that Congress understands how important this issue is."
The group did not camp out Wednesday but will return Thursday to discuss the issue.