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May 02, 2013

Thousands rally for immigration overhaul; few Americans know stakes

Thousands joined May Day rallies in dozens of cities across the country to call on Congress to pass an immigration overhaul that would place 11 million immigrants in the country illegally on a path to citizenship. 

There were marches and prayer vigils in large and small cities, from Los Angeles and Las Vegas to Kalamazoo, Mich., and Portland, Maine, attended by Latinos and supporters of a comprehensive overhaul.

The rallies come as leaders in Washington hunker down for a tough debate.

“I will do everything in my power as Majority Leader to get a bill across the finish line,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told a Las Vegas crowd after sharing the story of a 16-year-old girl who was brought to the country illegaly as a baby.

The marches were led by supporters of an overhaul including union groups and Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a coalition of the largest immigrant rights groups. The coalition’s leaders promise to have a constant presence on Capitol Hill over the next several weeks lobbying members of Congress. They plan to deliver “thousands of photos of families torn apart” by the current immigration system.

The rallies come at a time when new polls shows that few Americans still have yet to form an opinion on the legislation or even know about it. According to a new Pew Hispanic Center poll, less than half realize that undocumented immigrants could stay in the country while they seek citizenship.

Another recent study published by the Pew Research Center showed 71 percent of Americans favor granting legal status to the undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

-- Franco Ordonez

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