Thousands of demonstrators poured into Chicago's streets on Wednesday -- May Day -- as part of a nationwide call for comprehensive immigration reform, worker's rights and an end to deportations.
Among the marchers in Chicago was Yolanda Villadomec, who emphasized to ABC Chicago that the issues share a central thread of "family unity," which she described as "very important" to her.
"That's the point that I always look at: family unity. We want the mother, the father, the children together as a family," Villadomec told the station.
The peaceful march -- only one isolated arrest was reported -- began at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Union Park and proceeded to Federal Plaza in the Loop for a late afternoon rally. Demonstrators also rallied at the Haymarket monument in the afternoon.
Many demonstrators carried signs urging President Obama to cease deportations and embrace a comprehensive immigration reform platform. According to Chicago Sun-Times, many marchers chanted in Spanish, "Yes, we can. Stop deportations.”
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was on hand for the Federal Plaza rally and told the crowd to continue their push for change. Durbin said that Congress currently has "the best chance we have had in 25 years" for comprehensive immigration reform, according to the Chicago Tribune. Two weeks ago, Durbin was among a bipartisan "gang of eight" that introduced an immigration bill -- which has since been the subject of criticism from pro-reform groups -- in Washington. (Read below to learn more about the proposal.)
"We have to seize that opportunity," Durbin said, according to the newspaper.
Also among the demonstrators was Aracly Rafael, a 35-year-old restaurant worker who came to the city illegally 15 years ago and is hopeful for a path to U.S. citizenship.
"I could have a better job and I could travel to see my family in Mexico," Rafael told the Associated Press.
Also on HuffPost:
"Gang Of Eight"
A <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/immigration-reform-framework_n_2566494.html?1359387491">bipartisan group of senators</a> have come together to address the issue of immigration reform. The group consists of four members of each party -- Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado, plus Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Their framework was announced Monday.
Pathway To Citizenship
A <a href="http://www.docstoc.com/docs/142894316/Bipartisan-immigration-plan">"tough but fair" </a> road to citizenship is the main tenet of the bipartisan immigrant plan. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is the most significant supporter of this idea, giving hope to those who doubt Republicans will support the plan.
The New Process
The new process of obtaining citizenship would be just that -- a process. Probationary citizens would be required to pass an additional background check, learn English, pay taxes and show that they have a history of employment to apply for permanent residence and a green card. Undocumented immigrants will receive green cards after all probationary citizens have been processed, ensuring that documented immigrants are addressed first. Separate processes would be designed for young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and agricultural workers.
Enforcement, Then Green Cards
The first goal, before any green cards are handed out, is to "demonstrate our commitment to securing our borders and combating visa overstays," the senators say in their framework.
Enhance Border Security And Drones
Emphasizing enforcement measures, the framework calls for increased boarder control, including more border agents and aerial surveillance and drones. A new system would be added to ensure visa stays are being adhered to, along with a commission of border lawmakers to aid legislation.
Increase Employment Verification
The senators have proposed to create an "effective employment verification system" that would help prevent identity theft while allowing employers to feel secure in hiring documented immigrants.
No Benefits For Probationary Immigrants
Immigrants who are in the probationary category would not be eligible for federal benefits in the senators' framework. This addresses the concern that public benefits, particularly health-related ones, are being spent on undocumented immigrants.
An Easier Path For 'The Best And Brightest'
The framework recognizes that a different sort of process would be needed for "the best and brightest," including highly-skilled workers and those with higher education. This has been previously addressed in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/stem-act-white-house-immigration_n_2207279.html">STEM Act </a> which was ultimately vetoed by the White House.