Immigration rally draws thousands to Washington

Demonstrators gather on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Mike Conneen/ABC7

Thousands of immigrants and activists are poised to rally in Washington, D.C., where they will ask Congress to approve immigration reforms to grant 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States a pathway toward citizenship.

Organizers say thousands of others will take part in rallies in at least 18 states as part of a nationwide week of action.

Gustavo Torres, who leads one of Maryland's largest immigrant advocacy groups, says demonstrators are gathering on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

Demonstrators were also tucked in an Arlington parking lot offering different perspectives and reasons for rallying outside the Capitol.

“It’s supposed to say ‘keep families together,’” says Rick Chavez of Arlington.

Chavez, 14, chose this message because his uncle was deported and his father was almost sent back. Chavez was born in the states.

“No kid should have no parents just because they weren’t born here,” he says.

“Grew up here most of my life,” says Ronald Chacon.

Chacon came to the United States when he was 8 years old. Now 39, he’s a naturalized citizen who lives in Maryland.

“I know what it feels like to live in the shadows… we want families to be reunited… it’s our time now and for us, it’s a historic time.”

Bolivian-born Lizzette Arias is 24 years old. She was brought to the states when she was only two months old. She describes her situation as being in limbo because she has a work permit, but feels American and wants rights others have.

“Still want to be able to travel outside the country and be able to vote,” she says. “To not let us have the right to vote or a path to citizenship is inhumane.”

In Atlanta, more than 1,000 people gathered at the Georgia Capitol, calling for comprehensive immigration reform and an end to deportation.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this story.