En Español Know Your Rights
Source: National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Immigrants March For Local Reforms A Growing Force in City Politics, Immigrants Flex Political Muscle

Over a
thousand immigrant New Yorkers and their supporters marched from Battery Park
to City Hall recently in the largest gathering of immigrant groups advocating
for city issues held to date. More than 70 organizations from throughout the
city, representing immigrants from every corner of the globe, joined the march
in a remarkable display of unity and growing civic power.

Participants,
carrying colorful signs that read, "Proud to Be an Immigrant!" and "I Love
Immigrant New York!"
urged Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to take action to address immigrant
New Yorkers’ most pressing local concerns: good schools, safe working conditions,
decent housing, and more adult education programs.

"This
march sends a powerful message to Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council that we
can do better when it comes to immigrants," said Chung-Wha Hong, executive
director of The New York Immigration Coalition, organizer of today’s event.
"The mayor made immigrants the centerpiece of his State of the City address in
January, but warm words are not enough. We can do better. The mayor and City
Council need to adopt bold policy solutions that improve the lives of
immigrants and all New Yorkers," said Hong.

Participants
cited the shortfall in education funding as a main concern and called on the
mayor to restore education aid. "More kids are going to fall through the cracks
of our education system if the mayor doesn’t come through with the school
funding he had promised to all New York
families," said Ana Maria Archila, co–executive director of Make the Road New York. "These cuts will have devastating
effects on our schools, particularly those with large numbers of immigrant
students," said Archila. Late-arriving immigrant teens who
begin school with little to no English skills have one of the highest dropout
rates: more than 50 percent are dropping out of high school after seven years.

Ralliers
also pointed to the rise in construction-site injuries and fatalities in New York City, where
three out of four victims have been immigrant workers. "The city needs to
better enforce worksite safety standards and help more workers get safety
training, because we cannot bear any more stories of construction workers
falling to their deaths or getting crushed," said Gonzalo Mercado, director of
El Centro del Inmigrante.

Margaret
Chin, deputy executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, spoke of the
need to make housing services more accessible to the one-in-four New Yorkers
who speak limited English. "Because of language barriers, many New Yorkers
cannot get the help they need when negligent landlords refuse to fix dangerous
code violations," said Chin. She called on the mayor and City Council to enact
legislation that would enable the city’s housing agency to hire more bilingual
inspectors.

Participants
called on the city to help more immigrant New Yorkers learn English. "Every
community group has long waiting lists for their adult English classes. There
is a huge demand for these classes, and very limited supply," said Mr. Yu Soung
Mun, executive director of YKASEC—Empowering the Korean American Community. "By
investing in adult English and civics classes, New York can be proactive in
helping immigrant New Yorkers integrate into American society and become
citizens," said Mun.