JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A few thousand people gathered in Liberty State Park in Jersey City Saturday to push for reforms in immigration policy.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, it was one of many demonstrations are being held across the country, under the name “Time Is Now.”

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Rafael Rivera emigrated legally from the Dominican Republic in 1978. He said he knows the power of being an American.

“A better life over here,” Rivera said. “You make American money, better life. Everything’s better over here.”

So Rivera joined the crowd, mostly made up of members of organized labor, to call for immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship that Rivera said is about equality.

Jersey City Immigration Reform Rally

A crowd of 3,000 gathered to rally for immigration reform in Jersey City Saturday. (Credit: Jim Smith/WCBS 880)

“I would like to see them make it better for everybody coming to this country and give everybody opportunity to a better life,” he said.

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The group held signs reading, “Time Is Now.”

Several elected officials attended, including U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) He said he was cautiously optimistic about reform efforts being crafted in Washington.

“When you can have bipartisan legislation from people as diverse as (U.S. Sen.) Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and (U.S. Sen.) John McCain (R-Ariz.), then you have a great foundation by which to get the type of support in the Senate that will lead us ultimately to the success that we want,” Menendez said.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker also said change is afoot in Washington when it comes to immigration policy.

“I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing in the conversation,” he said. “The bipartisan conversations that are happening.”

But Booker said lawmakers mustn’t slow the pace.

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