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posted: 5/1/2013 5:12 PM

Chicago marchers rally for immigration changes

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  • Immigrants and activists march Wednesday in Chicago to urge comprehensive immigration reform.

      Immigrants and activists march Wednesday in Chicago to urge comprehensive immigration reform.
    Associated Press

  • The annual May Day ritual in Chicago and elsewhere carries a special sense of urgency as Congress considers sweeping legislation that would bring many of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally out of the shadows

      The annual May Day ritual in Chicago and elsewhere carries a special sense of urgency as Congress considers sweeping legislation that would bring many of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally out of the shadows
    Associated Press

  • Thousands of people marched for immigration reform Wednesday in Chicago.

      Thousands of people marched for immigration reform Wednesday in Chicago.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

Thousands of marchers made their way through downtown Chicago to a rally in support of easing the nation's immigration laws.

Among those gathered Wednesday in Federal Plaza was Aracly Rafael, who came to Chicago illegally 15 years ago. She said she's marching in the annual May Day event because she wants to be a citizen.

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The 35-year-old restaurant worker teared up as she talked about being able to travel to Mexico to see her parents. She hasn't seen them since she left home for the U.S.

Fourteen-year-old Saul Arrellano, the son of a woman who sought sanctuary inside a Chicago church before she was deported, said immigration legislation is needed so people who have been deported "can come home" to the U.S. Saul is the U.S. citizen son of Elvira Arellano.

The pair holed up inside Aldalberto United Methodist Church for a year. Elvira Arellano defied a deportation order so she wouldn't be separated from her son. She ended her sanctuary and was deported to Mexico in 2007.

Also at the rally, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Americans must stand together to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.

Durbin was part of a bipartisan group of senators that introduced an immigration bill two weeks ago. The legislation would provide a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million living in the U.S. illegally.

It also would strengthen border security and require employers to use an electronic verification system to check an individual's eligibility to work in the U.S.

He said this is the best chance in 25 years to pass immigration legislation. He calls it "a once-in-a lifetime opportunity."

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