Washington, Oct 14 (DPA) A group of left-leaning US lawmakers hoped to reignite efforts to overhaul the country's immigration system with a rally Tuesday of activists and religious leaders from around the country.
The question of how to deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US has plagued Congress for years. Two bids at reforming the system failed under former president George W Bush amid sharp disagreements over whether to offer illegals already in the country a path to US citizenship.
Supporters of immigration reform gathered on the steps of Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to revive the debate under President Barack Obama.
"We need a bill that says if you come here to hurt our communities, we will not support you, but if you are here to work hard and to make a better life for your family, you will have the opportunity to earn your citizenship," said Congressman Luis Gutierrez of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Immigration reform has struggled for attention this year amid the severe US recession, while lawmakers in Congress wage a divisive battle to overhaul health insurance and wrangle over how to combat pollution blamed for global warming.