March 27th, 2010
09:04 PM ET

Thousands rally for immigration reform

Thousands of people rallying for immigration reform poured through several downtown blocks in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday, many waving flags or carrying signs.

"Stop prosecuting our race," one sign read. "Reform not raids," said a banner held by several people as they stretched across a large portion of a road. Some banged drums, and the sound of noisemakers pervaded. American and Mexican flags were common.

The protesters are urging lawmakers and President Barack Obama to move forward with immigration reform legislation - expected to be the president's next big task following this week's passage of the health care bill.

Saturday's event, which was organized by a coalition of family, labor student and community groups, follows a similar rally on the National Mall in Washington earlier this week.

Obama spoke to the crowd there by video on Sunday, saying he will do everything in his power to reach a bipartisan deal within the year.

"You know as well as I do that this won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight," Obama said. "But if we work together across ethnic, state and party lines, we can build a future worthy of our history as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws."

The demonstration in Washington coincided with smaller rallies in cities such as Denver, Colorado, and Phoenix, Arizona.

Four years ago, then-President George W. Bush supported a bipartisan effort to overhaul U.S. immigration laws, proposing a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million people currently in the United States without authorization. But those measures were criticized as establishing "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, and legislation Bush supported died with a Senate filibuster - one led by members of his own party but joined by more than a dozen Democrats.

This week's immigration rallies followed the recent publication of a new plan backed by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. The plan would create a "tough but fair" path to legalization, as well as a temporary worker program and tighter border controls, the sponsors wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece.

"I don't think it's any different than what the proponents have been pushing since the Bush administration, which is a path to amnesty for those who have broken the laws of this country," Colorado Republican state Sen. Ted Harvey said at the Denver rally.

Obama called the senators' plans promising, and said it "should be the basis for moving forward." He called on Congress to act on that plan at the earliest possible opportunity.

The president's push on immigration also helped secure a key vote for his health care bill. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, announced his support for the bill after receiving a commitment to move forward on immigration "as soon as possible."

-  CNN en Espanol's Juan Carlos Arciniegas contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Immigration • Politics
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. dyolf

    Schumacher and Graham, now thats a pair. We know their only concern is for the country and not their own paltry necks, right?. Anything they come up with is strictly partisan. the only concern I have is why haven't these allegedly conservative republicans kicked that Graham to the dogs where he belongs? Also CNN why no pictures of the mexicans, salvadorians, brazilian, panamians, guatemalians, hondurans, belizians, costa ricans, puerto ricicans, columbians, venzuleans, etc.... that constituted the bulk of the protesters who want to change this country's immigration policy. To be fair most were probably anchor babies worried about their illegal parents, oh, sorry, the occasional bleeding heart was there for sure. This is America, of American, by Americans, for Americans. Take your gangs and go back to the corruption that you spawned in your own country. Legal immigrants are more than welcom.

    March 28, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Amigo

    There is great potential for violence being bred here. Given the current mood of many in the US the
    "protests" of those on the wrong side of the law generates hostility and fear. the law must either be obeyed or changed. Until the law nw in place is changed or revised I fear hostility will grow. Why is it so hard to do what
    a nation requires?

    March 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kerry

    If obama gives amnesty to illegal immigrants I wont be voting for him again.

    March 28, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. C-APRIL

    GIVE AMNESTY TO THOSE THAT HAVE RESIDED IN PEACE, I say any crime other than coming to the country Illegally should not be forgiven. Many of these people came to America for hope and promise what right do we have to take it away. We all came from Immigrants here and many so many of us were not registered. If my Irish great grandpa had not skipped boat and snuck my great grandmother along, if my then Mexican grandpa had moved south after the Mexican/American war and not stayed in New Mexico I myself would not be an American. Im one of the proudest dahm Americans alive but I'm not so stupid as to think that keeping out immigrants is going to solve our problems. I dislike Bush allot but he may of had the right Idea, these immigrants are not leaving and they are hard working people of society so time to get over your white supremacist egos and become real Americans.

    March 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. vicki countz

    The "illegals" come for subsidies, Subsidies and MORE SUBSIDIES. Then they send
    a huge chunk back to their country at Americans expense. Mexico is beautiful (I've
    been there MUCHO times) surrounded by oceans and seas and gulfs, the best
    shrimp I have ever tasted, why do they leave? Subsidies!!! The timeshare salesmen,
    the bartenders, the waitresses, dancers and er-hums, are AMERICAN. No taxes.

    March 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. but but but

    People come here for jobs. When there are no jobs, they leave. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants have left the US in the last two year as the economy has faltered. While there are still illegal immigrants here, they don't create the environment that encourages them. American businesses create that environment by hiring undocumented workers. It would be much easier, and cheaper, to crack down on businesses breaking the law and hiring undocumented workers. Unlike the immigrants, those business owners have something to lose.

    March 29, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Caesar

    I am for Immigration reforms. America is a nation of Immigrants. The demographics has changed and so should our laws to reflect the current population. Give amnesty to all.

    April 3, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Patricia


    I'm with you, if Obama gives them Amnesty or anything even near Amnesty, he won't be getting my vote again – nor will any other Democrat for that matter. I did not invest time, money and energy into obtaining a college degree only to have it become worthless b/c I don't speak their damn language. This is America DAMNIT and they should be speaking OUR language......American's need to unite against this Amnesty foolishness. It is not about the politicains. It is about avg. citizens.

    April 11, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. paul

    It is sad to see many racist,nationalist comments,I am quite sure that many of the above coments againts hard working people comes from uneducated whose backgrounds are typical of dysfunctional American famillies that promote discrimation.Hope better education will prevent future generations have better clear ideas about fraternity,solidarity and compassion to others.
    God bless all including above ignorant people that only repeat what others say.

    April 21, 2010 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. joe

    Born and raised here, pay taxes,pay for college. Applied for a cooking job for the summer, and was told "we dont hire white cooks" they said i could apply and leave a resume' , but it would be a waste of time- they only hire mexicans-Is this AMERICA????

    June 25, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
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