From Union City—Tens of thousands gathered under a sea of American flags on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn yesterday to call for reform of the nation’s immigration laws. The mood of the crowd, basking in record temperatures amid cherry blossoms and magnolias, was jubilant and celebratory as the largely Latino participants reveled in a political might that many speakers noted had been critical to re-electing President Obama and maintaining Democratic control of the U.S. Senate. Inside the Capitol, a bipartisan group of US senators have been negotiating a deal on immigration reform that could be introduced in the next few days.

Joyous chants of “Si Se Puede/Yes We Can” erupted regularly as families with children on their shoulders hoisted flags of their adopted homeland and signs saying “The Time Is Now” for Congressional action on a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans. Union colors were well-represented among the crowd filling the West Lawn, from UFCW’s gold shirts to AFSCME’s green, the blue of the teachers, the UAW’s black and gold, CWA’s red, SEIU’s purple and more.

In related news, the AFL-CIO yesterday reported that the bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight,” who are crafting immigration legislation in Congress, signed off on yet another piece of the reform puzzle: a mechanism for new workers to come to the United States regardless of whether they have family living here or the ability to qualify for one of the existing visa programs. Click here for the full report. – report/photos by Chris Garlock