SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF)  – Demonstrators  were marching in the Bay Area as several rallies across California pushed for a change in the nation’s immigration policy.

In San Francisco, a crowd estimated to be about 100 people started walking down the city’s Market Street around 3 p.m. chanting in English and Spanish and holding signs and banners reading “Reunite Families Now” and “The IRS Agrees My Taxes Are Not Illegal.”

About two dozen police officer officers were monitoring the crowd.

The demonstrators were heading to the Federal Building where they planned on building an altar with 1,000 paper flowers symbolizing the people deported daily for immigration violations

In Oakland, more than 100 people rallied and marched through downtown as in other events throughout the country as part of a National Day of Action. The rallies come as Congress closes in on an immigration reform deal.

Denise Solis, vice president of SEIU United Service Workers West, told the crowd gathered in front of Oakland City Hall that they were there to send a message to Congress members.

“They need to step up. The time is now for true immigration reform,” said Solis.

Before a march to the nearby Federal Building organizer Mary Lim Lampe said they want reform that keeps families together, protects workers’ rights and has a pathway to citizenship in the range of six to eight years.

“A lot of our people have been waiting since they were children for a feasible pathway, so we want something that can start immediately,” Lampe said.

Similar events were held in San Jose and Santa Cruz.

The group of eight bipartisan senators is reportedly ready to release legislation as early as Thursday and a Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigrant advocacy group Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network, or SIREN, is holding several events in Santa Clara County Wednesday.

A breakfast was held Wednesday morning at San Jose’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Church with faith leaders calling for immigration policy changes.

Immigration reform proponents will be holding a 6 p.m. vigil at the University Avenue pedestrian overcrossing above Interstate Highway 80 in Berkeley.

That event will feature groups, local elected and faith leaders, merchants, students, residents and others who will light candles in support of creating a “bridge” to citizenship.

University of California at Berkeley students will discuss the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, and fourth-graders from Oakland who have had classmates affected by deportation will speak, Salazar said.

California’s version of the DREAM Act became law in 2011, allowing undocumented students access to financial aid for higher education.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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