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Thousands Rally in US Capital, Demanding Immigration Reform

Thousands of supporters of immigration reform rallied in the nation's capital on Sunday, voicing their frustration with the government's pace of handling the complex issue. The gathering was both a serious and lively gathering that brought together politicians, labor representatives and religious leaders to try to push the issue back on to the table.

Many participants at the rally waved American flags and held signs that were written in both Spanish and English.

Some had stark messages such as "Reform Immigration Before Others Die." Others carried signs that read: "Change Takes Courage."

On a massive stage and in crowds, participants of the "March for America" urged U.S. President Barack Obama to follow through on his promise to overhaul the immigration system.

Leyda Lopez came to Sunday's rally with her mother who entered the country illegally from Equador nearly two decades ago. Leyda says she is concerned about the state of the immigration reform debate.

"It's a lost, because like the president is saying he is going to do something and he never do it, we are waiting for that," she said. "And we want justice."

Leyda's mother, Mely, says that because of her status, she has been unable to return to Equador to see the rest of her family for 18 years.

Mely says that while the push for immigration reform is difficult, it should not be impossible. She says that those who are here illegally want to be legalized.

Yulmi Rock, a middle-aged worker who came to the rally with other members of his family says many who have come to the United States are professionals who just want to work for this country and make a contribution.

Yulmi says many work 15-16 hours a day, holding two jobs and are underpaid because they are undocumented. He says frequently they are taken advantage of and exploited and that is not just.

Immigration reform failed in Congress in 2006 and 2007 and President Obama promised to make the issue a top priority during his first year in office.

However, since stepping into office last January, Mr. Obama's agenda has been overwhelmed by the issue of health care reform, the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president addressed participants at the rally in a video message, pledging to work together with Congress this year and fix what he called the United States "broken immigration system."

Mr. Obama said that some of problems with the system include families being torn apart, employers gaming the system and the struggles police officers face trying to keep communities safe.

Just last week, Mr. Obama praised the bi-partisan efforts of two Senators who put forward an outlined framework for immigration reform legislation.

The bill from Democratic Senator Charles Schumer and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham seeks to reinforce border controls and calls for the creation of a high-tech Social Security card to ensure that employers hire only legal workers.

The outline also includes proposals for a temporary worker program and penalties that would allow illegal immigrants to stay such as paying fines and back taxes and performing community service.

As key mid-term elections near in November, the immigration issue is likely to draw more attention. Many Republicans have opposed immigration reform without tougher enforcement of immigration laws and border enforcement. There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrations in the United States.

Some political analysts argue that the issue is unlikely to gain any traction before then, especially if concerns over the near 10 percent unemployment rate and health care continue to dominate the political agenda.