DAVID SCHAPER: Here on Milwaukee Avenue on Chicago's northwest side, the streets this morning were much quieter than normal. This street is a port of entry for Polish immigrants, many of whom closed their shops today, too, to join in the national day without immigrants and participate in the immigrants' rights rally. At Union Park on Chicago's near west side, Johnash Dadka (ph) and his wife Jana say like many of the Latinos they are marching with, they too immigrated to Chicago illegally.
JOHNASH DADKA: My point is, I am not criminal. I am immigrant from Poland and I want to be legally here, in this country.
JANA DADKA: Mexico is our brother. They are our brothers. They are working like we are working.
SCHAPER: Standing a few feet away on a muddy baseball diamond and listening to the speeches is 18yearold Roland Hernandez, who was with his father. He translates for his dad, whom he says is impressed by the ethic and racial diversity represented at the rally.
ROLAND HERNANDEZ: He wants to be everyone united so we can be together and have our legalization together so the Senators will listen to what we are saying and everything.
SCHAPER: In other words, he says there's power in these numbers, at least 300,000 strong by early afternoon as the march worked its way toward Grant Park along Chicago's lakefront. And more people were still joining the march in progress. The event paralyzed traffic near the downtown area. Police and transportation officials blocked off exit ramps from the expressways to better control the traffic flow.
Sitting in the gridlock created by the march was cabdriver Julius Asundi, who himself is an immigrant from Africa. He says he supports the march but is a little annoyed.
JULIUS ASUNDI: It's very tough. I can't even drive. There's traffic everywhere.
SCHAPER: And marching wasn't the first choice for many of those who made their way to the rally. Around 9:00 this morning in the parking lot of Gompers Park on Chicago's northwest side, a place normally filed with 50 to 60 day laborers every morning, fewer than 10 showed up today looking to be hired by contractors or doityourselfers. Miguel Rios says his first preference today is to work.
MIGUEL RIOS: If somebody come and give it to us with price, we go.
SCHAPER: The bottom line, Rios says, is he came to this country to work and save and to send money to his family in Mexico in the hope that they can eventually join him in a better way of life here. But today, with all the publicity about the march, no contractors are coming by to hire, so he and about a half dozen friends decided to get on a bus and head towards the march.
David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.
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