In a continuing call for immigrant rights, residents and community leaders marched across Los Angeles on Monday during a National Day of Action held in dozens of U.S. cities. Thousands of Angelenos rallied downtown and in the San Fernando Valley urging lawmakers to halt anti-illegal-immigrant legislation and allow a path to citizenship for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. Brandishing the Stars and Stripes and “We are America” placards, immigrants and their supporters marched on federal buildings downtown and in Van Nuys, where they lit candles to protest pending immigration reform. “This Congress has to acknowledge that (immigrants) built this country from its founding,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told thousands of protesters who cheered from the steps of La Placita, one of the city’s oldest churches. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event“Today we say to America: We’ve come here to work: We clean your toilets. We clean your hotels. We build your houses. We take care of your children. We want you to help us take care of our children as well.” The marchers joined what immigrant advocates hoped would be the largest national protest ever. At dozens of rallies from Los Angeles to Denver to Washington, D.C., demonstrators protested federal legislation that would quicken deportations, tighten border security and turn undocumented immigrants into felons. A bill to grant citizenship to a vast majority of illegal immigrants collapsed in the Senate last week. Hours before the evening march, Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, addressed a South Los Angeles school in support of the failed Senate bill. “I believe in balance,” said Kerry. “Our borders do have to mean something, ladies and gentlemen. In the age of 9-11, it is important to know who’s crossing our borders.” In Washington, D.C., immigrants streamed down to the National Mall, walking from Malcolm X Park – a traditional staging ground for protests in the capital. Maria Gomez, 25, draped herself with a Salvadoran flag. Gomez, who acknowledged being in the U.S. illegally, said she hopes politicians’ minds are changed by the rallies. “We just want to work. We’re not hurting anybody,” she said. Oscar Rivera, 38, said he believes Congress should grant full amnesty to illegal immigrants. Originally from El Salvador, Rivera, a photographer, said he is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., and believes in open borders. “If globalization means companies can go into any country looking for cheap labor,” he said, “then why can’t people, why can’t my family, go where they want to get better wages?” The rallies came two weeks on the heels of the largest demonstration in Los Angeles, when upward of 500,000 residents marched in support of immigrants’ rights. In Los Angeles on Monday, more than 7,000 marchers took to the streets, waving American flags and clutching votive candles as they walked several downtown blocks across the 101 Freeway. The demonstration began at 5 p.m. and ended at the federal courthouse at sunset. Organizers billed the vigil as an interfaith day of action that spanned across race and class, and they say they will next push for a massive voting campaign and larger national demonstrations. “We are here because we are struggling for our people, for legalization,” said Efrain Santa Cruz, 44, of Monterey Park. “The silence is broken.” An estimated 4,000 demonstrators marched from Panorama City to the Van Nuys federal courthouse, shutting down Van Nuys for two miles. Teresa Diaz, 45, of North Hollywood said she left four children in Mexico to find work in Los Angeles. “We came here to escape poverty,” said Diaz, who is a citizen. “We are Americans.” “I see the necessity of legalization firsthand,” added Dora Posado, 41, of Sun Valley, a U.S. citizen who emigrated from El Salvador 26 years ago for better jobs. “When we don’t have papers, they want to pay us less, they want to discriminate.” Meanwhile, a coalition of immigrant-rights activists planned to disrupt the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today by reserving time on each agenda item for discussion of immigrant issues. Maria Vergara, an activist with La Gente Unida, said speakers plan to send a “silent message” to the board. Miguel Guzman, president of La Gente Unida Political Action Committee, said the supervisors need to learn about how immigrants are suffering in the county. “We can’t be looked down on as a lower class,” he said. “We deserve equal opportunities and don’t need anybody to step on our spirits like this.” Daily News Staff Reporter Troy Anderson contributed to this report. [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!