En Español Know Your Rights
Source: New America Media
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

New Yorkers Take to the Streets

Waving
colorful banners that read, "Proud to Be an Immigrant!" and "I Love Immigrant New York," thousands
here demonstrated on Wednesday morning, urging Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the
City Council to address the concerns of immigrant New Yorkers.

Joined by
members of about 73 immigrant advocacy groups from different parts of the world
and other supporters, the march started from Battery Park and ended at the City
Hall, where they pressed Bloomberg to provide good schools, safe working
conditions, decent housing and more adult education programs.

"This
remarkable display of unity highlights the struggles of city immigrants,"
Norman Eng, an attorney who works for New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC),
said in a telephone interview. "It shows that immigrants are very much active
in civic and political engagement."

Citing the
recent cutbacks in educational programs, the demonstrators called on the mayor
to restore the education aid and enhance the achievement gap of affected public
schools in the city.

"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," Ana Maria Archila, co–executive director of Make the Road New York, said in a press statement. "These
cuts will have devastating effects on our schools, particularly those with
large numbers of immigrant students."

Reports
show that more than 50 percent of New
York immigrant teenagers who start school with little
to no English skills drop out of high school after seven years.

Demonstrators
also spoke about the recent construction site injuries and fatalities in the
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," Gonzalo Mercado, director
of El Centro del Inmigrante, said in a press statement.

Eng noted
that the march also amplifies the need for bilingual housing inspectors to
alleviate language barriers between city agency inspectors and immigrant
homeowners.

"Because of
language barriers, many New Yorkers cannot get the help they need when
negligent landlords refuse to fix dangerous code violations," said Margaret
Chin, deputy executive director of Asian Americans for Equality.

"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, NYIC executive
director. "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."