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Thousands rally for immigration rights in Keiner Plaza

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Protestors carry signs at Sunday's demonstration (KWMU photo)

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – More than 5,000 people rallied and marched in downtown St. Louis Sunday as one of a number of demonstrations across teh country in support of immigrants' rights.

The overwhelmingly Latino crowd cried out "Si Se Puede!" ("Yes We Can"), the chant made famous by activist Cesar Chavez. The rally was one of dozens aimed at pressuring Congress to clear the way for citizenship for 11 million undocumented workers.

Chilean immigrant Luis Jerez believes many people want that right but fear speaking out. "Half of the people right now, they are not here because they're afraid," Jerez said Sunday. "They're thinking 'Oh, something's going to happen.' But I think there's a lot of people supporting this.

"They're not criminal; they've come here to work in the land of opportunity."

Congress might take up a stalled reform bill after its two-week recess.

Archbishop Raymond Burke was among those who spoke at the rally. Bradley Veltre, with the Laborer's International Union Local 42, says American unions should organize in countries that suppress workers' rights. "Goon squads show up at people's houses in the night, and they just become the 'desaparecidos ' the disappeareds," he said.

"And I think that needs to change, I think that needs to be fought against with all the assets that this country can muster."

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