Rally of Thousands Shows Need For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Greetings from Chicago, where we are expecting more than 300,000 men and women to march in support of comprehensive immigration reform this afternoon. I just had the opportunity to address the audience before we begin marching. As I stood on the stage looking out at the sea of people, with its ranks swelled strong with activists and advocates, students and storekeepers, artists and educators - one could not help but be filled with pride. Because what is so impressive, and so special, about this event is that it is not just a Latino event; it is thousands upon thousands of other immigrants -- Irish and Asian and Polish -- who are standing shoulder to shoulder with us in support of equity and equality for all immigrants.



It is a diverse coalition of elected officials, religious leaders, doctors and lawyers who are standing together in solidarity and who are standing up for families and against anti-immigrant extremists. It is business owners who closed their doors today so they could march side-by-side with their workers. And the image of these men and women -- of all walks of life, marching arm in arm, waving American flags -- is a powerful pronouncement about the need for comprehensive immigration reform and one that I hope will continue to be heard in the halls of Congress.

In addition to today's event, we launched a national citizenship campaign on Saturday in Chicago. This effort is designed to harness the power and potential of the massive marches and activism we are seeing across the country. More than 1,000 people showed up to take their first step toward citizenship. During the workshop, legal permanent residents seeking to become citizens had the opportunity to receive important guidance and advice. Applicants also received assistance filling out all necessary documents and have their photographs taken. In addition, individuals attending the workshop received information on future steps of the naturalization process, including interviews, English proficiency exams and civics tests.

The event was the first in a series of workshops to be held across the country. Based on statistics from the Department of Homeland Security, more than eight million immigrants nationally are currently eligible for citizenship.