Thousands of supporters held rallies on Saturday at more than 150 sites, trying to tell Congress that despite the partisan turmoil in Washington, it should focus on finding a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants living here illegally.
Hoping to display the wide reach of their movement, advocates held larger rallies in immigrant strongholds such as Los Angeles, San Diego and Boston, with smaller demonstrations in places where immigrant groups have grown up recently, including Omaha, Neb.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Yakima, Wash.
Organizers described the events, and a large rally they have planned for Tuesday on the National Mall in Washington, as their major show of force this year. On what they were calling a National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect, supporters said they expected as many as 100,000 people nationwide.
An event in Boise ran from about 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Participants gathered at Ann Morrison Park, then marched to the Capitol at 3:30 p.m. A rally at the Capitol was scheduled to begin at 4:25 p.m.
In California, protests and vigils were held in 21 cities. In San Diego, several thousand people gathered in Balboa Park on the edge of downtown, shouting Si se puede (Yes we can).
Ana Nunez, 30, a student, said she has been living in the United States since 1989 without documents but recently received a temporary deportation deferral. She said that she has not seen her ailing grandparents since leaving Mexico and that she hopes for permanent legal status so she can travel to see them.
I want to physically feel them, Nunez said, holding a yellow sign reading Citizenship for 11 million #timeisnow.
Gloria Morales, 45, said she came from Mexico but became an American citizen in 2000. She said she was demonstrating to support other immigrants.
I know how painful it is to go through a broken system, she said. Were here so they dont forget about us. Its time for Obama to give us what he promised us.
While demonstrations were unfolding, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed into law eight bills on Saturday expanding protections for immigrants in the state, including for those without legal papers.
On Wednesday, Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced a bill that closely matches broad legislation passed by the Senate in June, including a path to citizenship for all illegal immigrants in the country. The House bill has no Republican sponsors, so its prospects are uncertain. But it gave advocates something to rally around Saturday.