DALLAS — An estimated 5,000 people carrying signs and waving American flags took to the streets of downtown Dallas on Sunday afternoon in a peaceful march to demand comprehensive immigration reform.
The march started at the Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe on Ross Avenue and ended at a Cinco de Mayo festival at City Hall Plaza.
Chanting "Si se puede" — "yes we can" — the marchers signaled their support for the compromise bill endorsed by four Republicans and four Democrats in the Senate that aims to improve border security with Mexico while letting more workers enter the U.S.
The measure would also require that companies verify a worker's status and would create a path to citizenship for thousands of undocumented immigrants.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) praised some aspects of the bill, but and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) raised concerns last month about the bill's border security plan.
"Border security matters in Texas and along the Southwestern border, and the bill does not adequately provide for that," Cornyn said.
Last year, President Obama approved a program to help some undocumented students, protecting them from deportation.
Eduardo Araica recently graduated from Richardson High School, and he's already seeing some relief.
"I'm not scared any more for me to be deported to Mexico," he said. "I can get a driver's license and I can have my Social Security number.
Katrina Alvarez of Garland said her family's legal status is mixed, and that's why more needs to be done.
"We're here to support that, because we need it... we need that right now," she said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will look at the proposal on Thursday. House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are also working on a similar immigration reform bill.
The turnout for this year's "Mega March" was not impressive when compared with earlier years. A similar event in 2006 attracted a crowd estimated at up to 500,000.
But organizers said the numbers that really matter are at the ballot box. Seventy-one percent of Latino voters re-elected President Obama in 2012. Those numbers, supporters say, can't be ignored.
"We are going to remember them at the ballot box," said march organizer and former state representative Domingo Garcia. "Some of those politicians might want these immigrants out of the country, but we are going to want them out of office."