NEW YORK Starting at 6 a.m. Sunday, 2,100 immigrants will hop in buses on Roosevelt Avenue in Elmhurst, Queens, and travel to Washington, D.C., with hopes of getting President Barack Obama’s attention.
Organizers of the March for America, led by the Campaign to Reform Immigration for America, are expecting 100,000 people on the National Mall.
For weeks, New York City groups have been recruiting resources for buses, gas and food to send their members to the nation’s capital.
In Queens, Make the Road will send 2,100 members in 40 buses, said Daniel Coates, who works on the group’s Civil Rights and Immigrant Power Project.
In his office Tuesday, preparing for the Queens group’s last meeting before the trip, he said advocates want Obama to fulfill his campaign promise of immigration reform. “We got a promise, and we want to see something,” he said.
On Friday, Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham published an op-ed in the Washington Post offering a four-pronged plan for immigration reform. Among their proposals: giving out biometric Social Security cards, strengthening border security and finding a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants living in the United States. They also suggested attracting skilled immigrants, who have PhD and master’s degrees, with green cards. The two legislators met with Obama last week, a first step toward satisfying calls for comprehensive reform.
Make the Road’s Queens office hummed with activity as workers secured buses and gave out instructions. Romulo López, a retired maintenance worker, was helping cook a vat of arroz con pollo for everyone’s Tuesday night dinner. He arrived from Ecuador legally in 1970, he said, but will march Sunday in support of his undocumented friends.
Coates said activists want reform, but they’re also marching for more jobs. Their largest sign reads, “Change Takes Courage,” the motto of this year’s march.
Martha Chavez, coordinator of advocacy and organizing for the New Immigrant Community Empowerment, said 140 people will leave their offices in Jackson Heights for the capital.
Norman Eng, spokesman for the New York Immigration Coalition, said their coalition has organized 230 buses from New York, exceeding their hopes for 10,000 New Yorkers.
The Coalition hosted a rally on the steps of City Hall March 9, where executive director Chung-Wha Hong chastised the Obama administration for increasing deportations and postponing immigration reform.
They hope to get his attention Sunday.
Obama will be in town. Yesterday, he announced he’s postponing a planned trip to Guam, Indonesia and Australia to stay and shepherd through the health care bill.