Gathered with more than 100 other South Bay labor activists in Carson, Pastora Munroe cried as she watched President Barack Obama's second inauguration Monday.

The 58-year-old Los Angeles woman immigrated from Honduras as a teenager, attended grade school and college in the area, and became a social worker and labor activist. She was laid off last year.

"I want to see happy families, I want to see everybody get their jobs back," she said during the boisterous watch party at the office of Good Jobs LA. "The president is reassuring us and giving us hope for the future. He's saying: `It's OK, let's move forward."'

But the primary message from Good Jobs LA, a nonprofit group that lobbies for workers' rights, is that immigration reform must be tackled this year so that more undocumented immigrants can be granted a path to citizenship.

"We elected him so we want to make sure he is held accountable for his promise of immigration reform," said Melissa Chadburn, an action coordinator for Good Jobs LA. "We will have comprehensive immigration reform but it won't be handed to us. We're going to have to fight for it."

Labor organizers are planning marches, petitions and other actions to encourage the president and Congress to move quickly on immigration and health-care reform, Chadburn said.

"It's time to work for that change.


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His first four years (in office), his message was hope," Chadburn said. "The next four years, his message is change."

The president touched on the issue of immigration reform only briefly Monday, saying the nation's "journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."

Cheers, applause and an occasional shout of "amen" rang through the Good Jobs LA office during Obama's inaugural speech. After Obama took the oath of office, several people threw confetti in the air.

Michelle Reed, a Service Employees International Union activist, shouted in agreement with the president after he echoed her belief that achieving their political goals will take hard work.

After Obama said: "While freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by his people here on Earth," Reed exclaimed: "See? It's what I said! Come on, president! Yes!

"The next four years is immigration reform and job creation and health care reform," she said. "Everyone's going to have to be a part of it to make it happen."

Another SEIU activist at the watch party Monday gave a speech to the crowd about upcoming protests in support of immigration reform.

"We already have an agenda and we're going to ask all of you to be a part of that movement," Citlalli Chavez said. "We will be providing you with calendars and dates. As SEIU, we re-elected Barack Obama but we need to help him. We need to work together to make this happen."

At another watch party at the at Los Angeles headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, attendees paid careful attention to any remarks about immigration.

Illegal immigrant Isabel Medina said Obama vowed to take action on the immigration issue during his campaigns, and now she is counting on him to follow through on that pledge.

"He said that he would do ... immigration reform if he (was) re-elected," she told KCAL 9.

Medina, who has been in the country for 16 years, brought her three children with her to watch the inauguration, noting that her two youngest children were U.S. citizens, but her oldest was not. He will soon be going to college thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy Obama approved last year, preventing certain young immigrants from being deported.

"That's only for two years," Medina told the station. "What's going to happen after those two years?"

sandy.mazza@dailybreeze.com

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.