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Huge rally protests immigration bill

LOS ANGELES, March 25 (UPI) -- An estimated 500,000 people protested in Los Angeles Saturday against proposed legislation that would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally.

The demonstration was one of the largest in the city's history, The Los Angeles Times reported. Both the Times and the Los Angeles Daily News reported that police estimated the crowd at 500,000.

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The rally filled 26 blocks in the downtown area with thousands of people waving the flags of the United States and, in many cases, their countries of origins.

Jose Alberto Salvador, carrying a stick with U.S. and Guatemalan flags, said he left his wife and four children behind four months ago to look for work in the United States.

"As much as we need this country, we love this country," he said. "This country gives us opportunities we don't get at home."

Smaller rallies have been held recently in cities across the United States. On Friday, Los Angeles high school students walked out to support protests in Phoenix and Milwaukee.

A bill sponsored Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., passed the House in December. It would require construction of a separation wall between the United States and Mexico, make illegal immigration a felony and impose penalties on those who help them.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings Monday on immigration legislation.

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