Hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters are taking part in rallies across the United States, and a nationwide boycott of work and school.
Large demonstrations are now under way in a number of U.S. cities, including Chicago (Illinois) where police estimate 300,000 people have gathered. Hundreds of thousands more are expected to rally in Los Angeles. Demonstrations are also expected in Phoenix , Atlanta and Denver.
Reports from around the country indicate that participation in what has been billed a "Day Without Immigrants" has been widespread as immigrants and their children have stayed away from work and school. They are striking, despite the opposition of some immigrant leaders, who fear the boycott may backfire and have a negative effect on U.S. public opinion.
The protest is meant to highlight the contributions of the nation's estimated 11-million undocumented immigrants, and to pressure the U.S. Congress to pass immigration reform.
U.S. senators are considering legislation that would tighten border security and provide millions of illegal immigrants a path to U.S. citizenship.
A bill passed by the House of Representatives in December that would make all illegal immigrants felons has provoked a mass protest movement.
President Bush said Friday he does not support boycotts. But Mr. Bush has said he favors a comprehensive immigration policy that includes a guest worker program.
In New York, thousands of workers took a short work break to link arms with shoppers, restaurant-goers and other supporters.
In the states of New Jersey, Rhode Island, Oregon and Pennsylvania, protesters plan to march to the offices of elected officials to urge them to support pro-immigrant legislation.More from Roquia Haider