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Thousands rally across U.S. for immigration bill

  • Rigoberto Ramos from Seaford, Del., originally from Guatemala, rallies for immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    Rigoberto Ramos from Seaford, Del., originally from Guatemala, rallies for immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • Jose Martinez from Plainfield, N.J., originally from Ecuador, plays the ukulele as he rallies for immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    Jose Martinez from Plainfield, N.J., originally from Ecuador, plays the ukulele as he rallies for immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • Protesters for immigration reform march near the Georgia Capitol Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Atlanta.  More than 1,000 people rallied at the Georgia Capitol and marched through downtown Atlanta to express support for comprehensive immigration reform and to call for an end to deportations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

    Protesters for immigration reform march near the Georgia Capitol Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Atlanta. More than 1,000 people rallied at the Georgia Capitol and marched through downtown Atlanta to express support for comprehensive immigration reform and to call for an end to deportations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Protesters for immigration reform march near the Georgia Capitol Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Atlanta.  More than 1,000 people rallied at the Georgia Capitol and marched through downtown Atlanta to express support for comprehensive immigration reform and to call for an end to deportations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

    Protesters for immigration reform march near the Georgia Capitol Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Atlanta. More than 1,000 people rallied at the Georgia Capitol and marched through downtown Atlanta to express support for comprehensive immigration reform and to call for an end to deportations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Participants shout at a rally outside the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in New York, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Over one hundred people, including a Mariachi band, gathered to express their support for immigration reform and to thank Schumer for his leadership on the issue. Organizers say thousands of immigrants and activists will take part in rallies in at least 18 states as part of a nationwide week of action, asking Congress to approve immigration reforms to grant 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States a pathway toward citizenship. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Participants shout at a rally outside the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in New York, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Over one hundred people, including a Mariachi band, gathered to express their support for immigration reform and to thank Schumer for his leadership on the issue. Organizers say thousands of immigrants and activists will take part in rallies in at least 18 states as part of a nationwide week of action, asking Congress to approve immigration reforms to grant 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States a pathway toward citizenship. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Participants shout at a rally outside the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in New York, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Over one hundred people gathered to express their support for immigration reform and to thank Schumer for his leadership on the issue. Organizers say thousands of immigrants and activists will take part in rallies in at least 18 states as part of a nationwide week of action, asking Congress to approve immigration reforms to grant 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States a pathway toward citizenship. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Participants shout at a rally outside the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in New York, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Over one hundred people gathered to express their support for immigration reform and to thank Schumer for his leadership on the issue. Organizers say thousands of immigrants and activists will take part in rallies in at least 18 states as part of a nationwide week of action, asking Congress to approve immigration reforms to grant 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States a pathway toward citizenship. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Rigoberto Ramos from Seaford, Del., originally from Guatemala, rallies for immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • Jose Martinez from Plainfield, N.J., originally from Ecuador, plays the ukulele as he rallies for immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • Protesters for immigration reform march near the Georgia Capitol Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Atlanta.  More than 1,000 people rallied at the Georgia Capitol and marched through downtown Atlanta to express support for comprehensive immigration reform and to call for an end to deportations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Protesters for immigration reform march near the Georgia Capitol Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Atlanta.  More than 1,000 people rallied at the Georgia Capitol and marched through downtown Atlanta to express support for comprehensive immigration reform and to call for an end to deportations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Participants shout at a rally outside the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in New York, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Over one hundred people, including a Mariachi band, gathered to express their support for immigration reform and to thank Schumer for his leadership on the issue. Organizers say thousands of immigrants and activists will take part in rallies in at least 18 states as part of a nationwide week of action, asking Congress to approve immigration reforms to grant 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States a pathway toward citizenship. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
  • Participants shout at a rally outside the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in New York, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Over one hundred people gathered to express their support for immigration reform and to thank Schumer for his leadership on the issue. Organizers say thousands of immigrants and activists will take part in rallies in at least 18 states as part of a nationwide week of action, asking Congress to approve immigration reforms to grant 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States a pathway toward citizenship. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Thousands of immigrants and activists rallied nationwide yesterday in a coordinated set of protests aimed at pressing Congress to approve immigration measures that would grant 11 million immigrants living here illegally a path toward citizenship.

Organizers said demonstrations were taking place in at least 18 states and Washington, D.C., where a large, festive crowd gathered on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol yesterday.

“We won’t win immigration reform just coming to Washington. We need to walk the streets all over the country,” said Ben Monterroso, national director of civic participation of the Service Employees International Union, which represents nurses and lower-wage employees including janitors and child care workers.

In Atlanta, more than 1,000 people marched around the Georgia Capitol yesterday, calling for comprehensive changes to immigration policy.

In San Francisco, demonstrators planned to build an altar at the federal building with 1,000 paper flowers, symbolizing the number of people deported daily for immigration violations.

Senators writing a sweeping immigration bill have said they hope to finish their work this week, opening what’s sure to be a raucous public debate over measures to secure the border, allow tens of thousands of foreign workers into the country and grant eventual citizenship to the millions living illegally in the United States.

Groups opposed to illegal immigration say they aren’t worried that lawmakers or voters will be swayed by emotional messages, and argue that extending legal rights to immigrants living illegally in the United States will create financial problems for cash-starved governments and spur more illegal immigration.

“There ought to be a rally for the 20 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job,” NumbersUSA President Roy Beck, whose group advocates reductions in immigration levels, said in a statement yesterday.

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