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Immigration activists plan reminder for overhaul

Slew of events planned as other debates dominate

MIAMI — Immigrants and their allies will march this weekend on Taylorville, Ill., in time for the annual chili fest. They’ll take a break from harvesting spuds to demonstrate in Boise, Idaho, and they will hold candles until dawn along the banks of Lake Hollingsworth near Orlando, Fla.

In more than 150 cities around the country, they will gather to remind the nation that despite the feuds in Congress over the debt ceiling and health care — despite the government shutdown — they are still here and still demanding immigration changes.

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Organizers are pitching Saturday as a ‘‘National Day for Dignity and Respect’’ and the beginning of an ‘‘escalation to bring immigration reform across the finish line this year.’’ Their weekend is the prelude to a rally and free concert Tuesday on the National Mall in Washington, where they hope to draw tens of thousands.

The chances they will get anything through Congress before the year’s end, though, are splinter thin. If House Republicans are willing to make a deal on anything with Democrats, it’s likely to be about the budget, not immigration.

But activist Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez said Saturday’s events are as much about sending a message to average Americans and to the immigrants themselves as they are about spurring action in Congress.

‘‘It’s about seeing us in our communities, not just as a number: 11 million undocumented,’’ he said. ‘‘And it’s about immigrants seeing that there are other immigrants out there, and that we are active members of our democracy. A lot of people feel isolated, and when you see all these marchers, that gives you hope and the energy to join them.’’

Sousa-Rodriguez knows about feeling isolated. He thought his situation was unique until the 2006 pro-immigrant marches, when he realized thousands of other immigrant youths were, like him, in the country illegally.

Sousa-Rodriguez, who works with the national LGBT grassroots group GetEQUAL, said Saturday’s mobilization is also about showing the support the immigrant movement has earned from religious leaders, labor, and civil rights organizations, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

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