Thousands of people pushing for immigration reform marched from Little Havana to Bayfront Park Saturday.
The Miami rally, one of many staged around the country Saturday, came days before lawmakers in Washington are expected to reveal a bipartisan immigration bill.
Local demonstrators demanding changes took to the streets to send a loud, clear message to Congress.
"There so many people out there who have so many needs and so many challenges,” marcher Andrea Rodriguez said. “A simple thing like having a driver’s license or having a Social Security number prohibits them from just doing the best they can in this country.”
More than 11 million people in the U.S. are undocumented, but want to work here legally without having to wait decades to become citizens, advocates say.
The marchers were joined by local community leaders including Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
"Most of these people here are my parishioners, and so I’m happy to stand in solidarity with them,” Wenski said. “But right now we have a moment of opportunity to gain immigration reform, and this rally is important so that Congress is reminded that we need a reform, but we need the reform to be a just one.”
Regalado said he believes that the Census didn’t count many Miami residents because they were afraid.
“These residents, if they can get to be permanent residents or citizens, they can take better jobs, they can buy houses, they can contribute more,” he said.
Groups from all over the country, including people who took part in Saturday’s Miami rally, plan to march in the nation’s capital Wednesday.
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