NEW YORK—Latino community leaders, labor leaders and elected officials from every corner of New York City gathered Tuesday on the steps of City Hall to explain why they are rallying Oct. 5 as part of a national day of action.
In the face of conservative threats to water down the immigration reform bill now stuck in the House of Representatives, the leaders called on the House leadership to allow a vote on the bill.
The diverse group of Latino leaders was unified in their opposition to any proposal that compromises an inclusive and achievable path to citizenship or creates a second-class status. They pledged to march in the streets and march to the polls. And they said they would remember who stood in the way of bringing 11 million people out of the shadows, and who helped to overcome the opposition of a minority in Congress.
“We are here to tell Washington that enough is enough. We can no longer allow the “American Dream” to be limited to a select few,” said Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “This is about improving conditions for all working people. Now is the time to pass immigration reform legislation and create a real path to citizenship for the many men and women who are already working and supporting families in this country. ”
“We’ve come too far and waited too long to allow Washington to kick comprehensive immigration reform to the curb another year,” said Jose Calderon, president of the Hispanic Federation. “On Saturday in New York and in Washington on October 8th, our community will march yet again to demand a pathway to citizenship for our undocumented community and remind House members that a failure to act will have serious political consequences.”
“We must work together to reach a fair and humane immigration reform that benefits all. Until this is achieved, we need to come together and ask President Barack Obama to stop the deporting of our people. Our message is very clear: We need to keep families together,” stated Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS and chair of the board of New York Immigration Coalition.
“Millions of lives are on the line, yet movement on immigration reform progresses at a glacial rate,” said Angela Fernandez, Esq. executive director of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “We are mobilizing on October 5 to send a clear message that our communities will no longer wait, and we demand reform with no less than a clear path to citizenship.”
“We have come out today and will march Saturday because we know that there are special interests and a minority of legislators who would like to block a commonsense immigration bill that provides a path to citizenship,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “We are raising our voices to make sure the majority viewpoint is heard loud and clear: the House leadership should allow a vote on a bill that gives hard-working immigrants a path to citizenship and keeps families together.”
“America can no longer afford to turn and look the other way as 11 million people are relegated to second class status,” said Lucia Gomez, executive director of La Fuente. “Today the government has shut-down and once again ignored their responsibilities in leadership. We are better than that as a nation and Congress must act! We have waited long enough. The time for Comprehensive Immigration Reform with a pathway to citizenship is now, and we will not stop until the American Dream is a reality for all.”
“New York LCLAA, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, stands united with the immigrant rights movement in calling for passage of immigration reform that ensures the labor and civil rights of immigrants in this nation with a path to citizenship,” said Sonia Ivany president of NYC LCLAA.
“We honor those immigrants on whose shoulders we stand,” said Frances Lucerna, executive director of El Puente. “For the price they, and we, have paid – from the factories to the battlegrounds all in service to this country. It is in this spirit that we call for a day of dignity and respect — a day of action — where our actions will speak louder than our words.”
“As someone who grew up in an immigrant family, I am all too aware of the difficulties faced by undocumented immigrants,” said Carlos Menchaca, the Democratic candidate for the 38th City Council district in Brooklyn. “As New Yorkers, we understand the contributions immigrants make to our economy and the richness of our city. We are here today and we are marching Saturday to make sure that as a nation we continue to welcome immigrants who help keep our country diverse and prosperous.”
“A comprehensive immigration bill should ensure due process, human and civil rights, and bans on racial profiling. We will continue to mobilize until a strong and comprehensive immigration reform bill is passed and signed into law,” said Jose Perez, deputy general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “Border trigger requirements should not be condition to a path to citizenship.”
“The Latino community has marched, voted, and helped move an immigration reform closer to passage than it has been in years,” said Irania Sanchez, a naturalized citizen and member of Make the Road New York. “On October 5th we will show in New York City and across the country that you cannot ignore our families, and that we must pass a reform with a path to citizenship now.”
“Passing immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship is not only the right thing to do, it also will benefit this city and the entire country economically,” said Ritchie Torres, the Democratic candidate for the 15th City Council district in the Bronx. “There are 11 million people in this country whose lives are hanging in the balance. We are here today to call on the House leadership to stop stalling and allow our Representatives to vote.”
“The time for congress and for our communities to act for immigration reform is now,” said Valeria Treves, executive director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). “Congressional representatives must show their leadership by drafting a bill and the speaker by allowing the bill to come to vote. For our part, affected communities and our allies must come out in full force on Oct. 5 and through the month of October to say we will wait no more for justice and dignity for immigrant workers and families.”