As House leaders continue to reject the broad framework of the Senate immigration bill, the American public remains strong in its support of comprehensive immigration reform. The source of its determination: empathy for the people affected by a broken immigration system.

As 100 children marched on the Capitol last month, they met up with members of the 1963 Children’s Crusade to share stories of family members being arrested and deported right before their eyes. Each group had experienced firsthand the effects of the broken immigration system, and echoes of the civil rights struggle proved a powerful backdrop to the children’s call for a real solution.

Outside of Washington D.C., protesters continue to gather at a number of public locations to support the reform effort; often risking arrest just to have their voices heard. When asked why they do this, many of the protesters say they are fighting for others, including friends, families and aspiring citizens.

Perhaps most revealing, however, is the public’s ongoing support of the pathway to citizenship, one of the most controversial points of the Senate’s bill. According to a recent report from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, nearly 63% of Americans across all religions and parties support the pathway, including 60% of Republicans. While on the opposite end of the spectrum, only 18% of Americans favor a tougher enforcement strategy of identifying and deporting illegal immigrants.

As tiring representatives begin to consider a divided legislation, perhaps they should look closer at what the American public is actually saying. Immigration laws don’t need a few small fixes, or to be drawn out over months or years, they need comprehensive reform and they need it now. Otherwise, millions of immigrants and citizens alike will continue to suffer under the burden of a broken system.

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