Thousands join in May Day march for immigration reform

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In what has become an annual show of force in cities across the country, immigrant workers and their families took to Chicago’s streets on May 1, marching on behalf of immigration reform, hoping their voices will be heard by lawmakers locally, and in Washington D.C.

Their message today? “Basically stop deportation, we’re here to work, we are not criminals,” one marcher said.

The afternoon began at Union Park on the city’s Near West Side where about 1,000 demonstrators gathered.  The crowd quickly grew to several thousand as the march continued down Washington Street. Marchers met with another group of demonstrators at Des Plaines, then everyone headed straight for Federal Plaza.

They held American and Mexican flags, chanting in both English and Spanish.  Many marchers were undocumented, and some have family members who have been deported.

“My family is one of them that is divided due to deportation,” said Cecilia Ibarra, explaining that some of her family members have been deported.

“They live there with their kids who were born here,” she said

“Most of these people do the jobs nobody wants to do, so I think we’re fighting for something that is right for everybody,” said marcher Oscar Gonzalez.

By 4 p.m. Wednesday, Federal Plaza was packed. The Chicago Police Department kept a close eye on the crowd looking for suspicious activity —  more than 100 officers were on hand.  Dozens of speakers told stories of having family members deported, while others did their best to fire the crowd up. Sen. Dick Durbin was the main speaker of the day.

“It is time for America to stand together for comprehensive immigration reform!” he said.

He of course spoke about the DREAM Act, and his efforts to pass a immigration reform bill he says he’s has been working on for the past three months.

“This comprehensive bill that we are proposing says that individuals that have received final orders of deportation are eligible to become legal citizens of the U.S.,” he said.

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