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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Immigrant Rights
100,000 March in Chicago to Protest Immigration Reform Bill
Over 100,000 marchers took to the streets of Chicago last Friday to fight a bill that would rewrite the nation's immigration laws. The march marked one of the biggest pro-immigrant rallies in U.S. history. We discuss the implications of the bill with discuss the demonstration with a member of one of the many organizations that spearheaded the event.
The political debate over immigration reform continues to heat up across the country following the recent passage of a bill by the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate will debate the bill later this month.
Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of Chicago last Friday to fight the bill that would drastically strengthen immigration enforcement, including extending a fence along the Mexican border and severe punishment for those who aid undocumented workers.
The mostly Latino marchers crammed the streets carrying signs saying for example "No human being is illegal" and "we are not criminals." Critics say the Sensenbrenner bill would turn millions of undocumented workers into felons for crossing the border without permission
Police estimate 100,000 marchers participated, making it one of the biggest pro-immigrant rallies in U.S. history, according to national advocates. However organizers estimate the numbers were as many as half a million and newspapers reports varied in that range.
Last Tuesday thousands of immigrants rallied against the bill outside the U.S. Capitol. More action is expected to come across the country as the bill is debated in Congress.
Marchers in Chicago on Friday had the support of local politicians. U.S. Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez said in a speech, "This is our country, and this is where we will stay."
Democrat Governor Blagojevich addressed the crowd in Spanish, saying, "You are not criminals, You are workers." Longtime Mayor Richard Daley also pledged support.
* Abel Nunez, associate director of Centro Romero, a community-based organization that serves the refugee immigrant population on the northeast side of Chicago.