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Rally hypes need to aid illegal immigrants

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 6:36 p.m.
A demonstrator is arrested by U.S. Capitol Police officers on Capitol Hill during a immigration rally in Washington, on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, as they press Congress to deal with immigration legislation. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Several thousand illegals on Tuesday staged a march on the National Mall to urge Congress to pass an immigration bill that would, among other things, allow the nation's estimated 12 million people living here illegally to apply for citizenship, effectively ending deportations for many of them.

The rally was held despite the National Mall being officially closed because of the partial government shutdown. Some opponents of immigration reform were upset that the demonstration was able to go on just a week after veterans struggled to get access to the World War II Memorial.

National Parks Service spokesman Mike Litterst said the immigration rally is being allowed because it was considered a First Amendment demonstrations. He said the park service is allowing veterans to visit the memorial for the same reason.

Non-veterans not practicing free speech are barred from the memorials and mall.

The Senate has passed an immigration bill that would revamp the legal immigration system and allow the nation's undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship within 13 years. But the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has taken a slower approach, considering smaller bills that tackle small pieces of immigration.

The rally featured speeches by civil rights activists, union representatives, minority groups and some members of Congress calling on House Republicans to get moving on their bills. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republicans from Florida, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democrats calling on the House to move faster.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said the Senate bill is a bad idea for America because it would double the number of foreign guest workers companies can hire, taking jobs from citizens, and reduce wages for all by adding millions more people to the labor market.

“Why are businesses laying off thousands and then spending a fortune to lobby for ‘comprehensive immigration reform'? Because, in Washington, ‘comprehensive reform' means increasing the number of immigrant workers to reduce the cost of labor,” he said.

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