(From left) Sarah Peterson Stensrud, Michele Garnett McKenzie, Juventino Meza, Uriel Rosales, John Keller

(From left) Sarah Peterson Stensrud, Michele Garnett McKenzie, Juventino Meza, Uriel Rosales, John Keller

As Congress struggles to reach a breakthrough immigration deal, tens of thousands of immigrants and activists converged Wednesday on the U.S. Capitol from across the nation, including some 40 “citizen-lobbyists” and lawyers from the Twin Cities.

 

“This is a huge deal. It is historic,” said Uriel Rosales, executive director of Navigate MN, a leadership development program for young adults in Minnesota who face legal barriers stemming from their immigration status.
 
Rosales, 22, travelled to the nation’s capital with other young Minnesota activists and lawyers, including John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center. An “echo” rally also was held Wednesday at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis.
 
Although there have been signs of softening opposition to reforms providing a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., immigrant groups have been frustrated by the glacial pace in Congress.
 
“There is a sense of urgency,” Keller said. “People who have been following this are more optimistic than ever, but each day that passes without a bill, the urgency rises.”
 
Members of the group Asamblea de Derechos Civiles of Minnesota organized a van from the Twin Cities. Others said they flew to the rally with the help of non-profit sponsors.
 
“We’re here to make sure that a good comprehensive immigration reform bill gets passed, one that includes our families,” said Rosales, a Mexican immigrant who has family members who face deportation. “I’m pretty optimistic. I really do think this is the year.”