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Thousands Protest US Immigration Reform Plans in Los Angeles


Thousands of people have rallied in the western U.S. state of California to protest the Bush administration's new immigration reform plan.

Protesters marched through the streets of downtown Los Angeles Saturday, with many carrying American flags and signs that said "Amnesty Now!"

Organizers said the marchers want an end to raids designed to catch illegal immigrants, and an easier, less expensive pathway to citizenship than the one proposed by the White House.

President Bush's plan would allow undocumented workers to apply for three-year work visas,(known as Z-visas, which would cost $3,500 to renew.

If they want to gain permanent residency, illegal immigrants would have to return to their native countries, then apply at a U.S. Embassy or consulate for re-entry and pay a $10,000 fine.

The Bush administration also wants to limit the number of relatives of legal immigrants granted entry into the United States.

The proposal also calls for deploying thousands more Border Patrol agents along the southern border, and installing an electronic monitoring system and more than 500 kilometers of fencing.

Administration officials conceived the new, more restrictive plan in March after a series of private meetings with senators of Mr. Bush's Republican Party.

The president had previously backed a comprehensive immigration reform plan approved by the U.S. Senate last year. That plan would have allowed millions of undocumented workers to stay in the United States and apply to become legal residents after paying small penalties and learning English.

Some information for this report provided by AP.