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A collection of student, labor and community activists rallied for immigration reform near the White House Saturday in the wake of a controversial immigration enforcement law passed in Arizona.

Immigrant advocates have used May 1 to lobby for reform for the past several years. This year, community, student and labor leaders were calling on President Barack Obama to halt deportations until comprehensive immigration reform was passed. Protests in dozens of cities across the country had been planned.

One group of students marched 1,500 miles from Florida to D.C. to attend the rally. Another group marched from New York. One group at the rally in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, engaged in a chant of “Education, not deportation!”

Activists were also out to protest a recently-passed immigration enforcement law in Arizona.

“People say because we are a different color…they say we are different,” said Maria Vazquez of Gaithersburg, who was wearing a yellow shirt donned by many at the rally that said “We are all Arizona.”

The state’s law originally authorized police to check the residency status of a person if they had “reasonable suspicion” that they were in the country illegally. To mollify concerns about racial profiling, it was amended to state that police had to be investigating another crime if they wanted to check someone’s immigration status.

Still, at the Lafayette gathering, Arazelia Hernandez, from Kansas City, toted a sign that said “Does this outfit make me look illegal?,” which she said was in response to Arizona’s law.

“Arizona proves that nativists are forcefully taking over the political space created by a vacuum of presidential and congressional leadership,” said Gustavo Torres from CASA de Maryland, an immigrant advocacy group. “The time for aggressive action is now.”

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