SALT LAKE CITY --Thousands of people flooded downtown Salt Lake City Sunday to march for immigration reform.
The group marched from the Salt Lake City & County Building on 455 S. State St. to the State Capitol.
The event was so large, police had to detour traffic away from State Street between 300 South to the Capitol. KSL heard crowd estimates ranging from 3,000 people all the way up to 10,000.
Regardless, it was the largest gathering for reform in the state since 2006.
It basically shut down the core of the city for the early part of the afternoon. Chopper 5 captured a look at the sea of people wearing white T-shirts.
Young people, families and even children came out to demand compassionate immigration reform.
Beatrice Perez joined the march. "I have a big family and I want to keep them together here," she said. "I don't want them to go back to Mexico."
It was a part of a national movement called "Dignity March 2010." The marchers wore white to symbolize peace and justice.
"No criminals or people who came to do bad to this country, just really good people that pay taxes, that contribute to this great nation," said marcher Graciela Caro.
They carried signs that said, "Stop the Hate," and "We Pay Taxes Too." They held their American flags high.
"We're united. We can accomplish great things. We can accomplish a lot of things together," said Alma Almanca.
Most expressed their desire to keep families together. That was the main message for several Catholic parishes that came out to march.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Church work so hard on family values, and this is one of those family values," said Father Martin Diaz with the St. Therese Catholic Church.
The group marched around the Capitol before heading back downtown.
"Actually, I was not anticipating this many people," said Lt. Lamar Ewell with the Salt Lake City Police Department. "I thought that we would get 400 to 500, but we got thousands."
The Salt Lake Motor Squad came out to control traffic, which had to be detoured around the marching route.
"I brought out our motorcycle squad, approximately I think there were 22 officers," Ewell said. "I had a public order unit standing by of a number of officers who just staged in case we had any problems."
Officers said there were no conflicts, just a peaceful event for a big cause.
"We want to study here in America and we want a good education." said Northwest Middle School student Dorothy Piedra.
Tony Yapias with Utahns for Immigration Reform, the group that sponsored the march, said the event was a success. "We feel very confident this time around. We think there's a real chance for immigration reform to happen this time," he said.
Officers said there were a handful of anti-immigration protesters who were pretty vocal but remained peaceful as well.
The Utah march coincided with other marches across the country. One in Washington, D.C., drew crowds of 10,000 or more.
President Obama responded to the marches Sunday. He said he is committed to working with Congress on a comprehensive bill to fix a "broken immigration system."
Activists in Utah have been frustrated with the pace of that reform.
"Obama promised us, and we're still waiting," said marcher Maracruz Juarez. "He said that on the first year when he was in power he was gonna do it and he hasn't done it yet."
Obama said he would do everything in his power to forge a bipartisan consensus on immigration reform this year.
Story compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales and The Associated Press.