Nearly a thousand Hispanic immigrants and their families joined City Council members and clergymen in a march over the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the thousands of New Yorkers being deported every year. They continued their protest with a rally at City Hall.
The demonstration was organized by Make the Road New York, a grassroots organization promoting economic justice, equity and opportunity for disadvantaged immigrants.
Co-executive director of Make the Road New York Andrew Friedman said the organization is “the largest immigrant membership-based organization in the city of New York, with over 8,000 members.”
He said, “We’re basically trying to tell the city that they should stop supporting and subsidizing federal immigration enforcement.”
Members of the First Presbyterian Church of New York City were also in attendance to support the group. The church has been a key ally in campaigning for the immigrants’ cause and helping to spread awareness of the issue.
“Innocent people are being thrown in jail,” David Wilson said. “It’s not really a publicized affair here; everybody knows about the Arizona immigration laws, but it’s affected a lot of people in New York as well.”
At City Hall, demonstrators called on City Council and the mayor to pass legislation that would adopt a new deportation process.
“We [announced] a legislative initiative that’s going to be proposed at the City Council soon,” Friedman said.
This new policy would aim to get New York out of the deportation business by stopping the use of the city’s resources to participate in civil immigration enforcement. It would also end the city’s participation in civil immigration investigations like those performed by ICE.
The initiative has backing from many City Council members and other community leaders. Make the Road New York members are especially eager to see its swift enactment.
“We are Americans,” said Leandra Requena, a member of the organization. “Our kids and our great-great-grandkids have the right to stay here.”