PORTLAND -- In Portland's South Park Blocks, Latin music filled the air Saturday morning, as 200 demonstrators prepared for the D17 march in support of immigrants' rights.
"I don't believe that people are illegal anywhere," said supporter Fred Smith."Everyone has the right to be somewhere.".
"Immigrants rights are very important for the country," added Eric Caraventes. Caraventes moved the the United States from Guatemala in 1993. He says he's a legal citizen with a wife, three kids and a job, but eight months ago his wife lost her job. The family is now facing foreclosure on their home.
"The bills, the loan, car payment insurance, it's a lot," said Caraventes. "We are the 99 percent and the economy is affecting us like everybody in the world."
December 17 was International Migrants Day. It also marked three months since the start of Occupy Wall Street movement. Several Occupy Portland supporters joined Saturday's march, and unlike many recent marches on the streets of Portland, organizers got a permit for Saturday's event.
"The reason why we had this march permitted was because we wanted to make this a safe space for everyone, including people who might be undocumented in this country," said volunteer Megan Hise.
Getting a permit for Saturday's march meant securing a police escort.
"(Protesters) have been working well with the police and that's all we can ask," said Sgt. Bret Barnum with the Portland Police Bureau's traffic division.
On a day when downtown Portland was packed with shoppers, protesters hoped their message wouldn't be lost in the Christmas rush.
"Everyone's out there trying to buy Christmas presents," Smith said. "I just hope they take the time to stop and think about what's happening in this country."
Later Saturday evening, a separate protest was held to oppose the National Defense Authorization Act passed last week.