Monday, April 20, 2009

Immigrants March for Dignity


for pictures, see here

WOODSIDE-- Latino, Filipino, Korean, South Asian, and Indigenous South
American immigrant rights groups marched together last Sunday in a 150+
strong march along Roosevelt Avenue to demand an end to random police raids,
arrests, ticketing against immigrants, and scam employment agencies. The
march, beginning at 69th Street and ending up at 83rd Street, ran up
Filipino immigrant businesses as well as South Asian and Latino
immigrant-owned businesses in a show of stunning multi-ethnic solidarity for
a common cause-- dignity for all immigrants. Amongst the key organizers and
sponsors of the march were the Jornaleros Unidos de Woodside (United Day
Laborers of Woodside), Philippine Forum, NAFCON (National Alliance for
Filipino Concerns), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), New York
Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Anakbayan NY/NJ,
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Sisa Pikari Labor Center, No
Raids Committee in Queens, BAYAN USA and the May 1st Coalition for Workers
and Immigrant Rights.

The Queens rally and march come at a critical time as Capitol Hill turns its
attention to US immigration policy next month. Two weeks ago, President
Barack Obama announced that US immigration reform would be a subject on the
table of lawmakers this May. The following week, two major national labor
federations, AFL-CIO and Change to Win, announced their united endorsement
for comprehensive immgration reform.

For the grassroots immigrant rights groups marching last Sunday, however,
the developments call for more urgent pressure coming from the most
oppressed and victimized from the broken immigration system-- immigrants
themselves-- and the immigrants of Queens are especially ready to speak out.

Latino day laborers stand along Roosevelt Avenue generally looking for work
and have founded a protective community for themselves. Despite this,
growing anti-immigrant attacks by the NYPD, such as random ticketing for
standing on the sidewalk, culminated in an arrest and detention of 10 day
laborers for no apparent reason other than standing this past October 2008.

"Yesterday, we wanted to show the local community that it’s not just the day
laborers that are fighting but the rest of the community. We also wanted to
show the real problems that are going on in the community especially the
police harassment," stated Felix Ortiz, a day laborer with the Jornaleros
Unidos de Woodside and victim of the said harassment by the police.

"Together we are fighting for our human and constitutional rights," said
Attorney Felix Vinluan from National Alliance for Filipino Concerns
(NAFCON)."And we will not stop until we have equality amongst all people of
all races.

The Roosevelt Avenue march comes weeks before the upcoming May 1st rally and
march for immigrant rights in Union Square at 4pm. Every May 1st since 2006,
thousands of New Yorkers have rallied and marched for comprehensive
immigration reform, including a path to legalization for all, end to ICE
raids and deportations, and swift family re-unification for separated
families. This is also a beginning for groups to come together and plan for
neighborhood clean-ups and other community-based activities in the local
Woodside and Jackson Heights area.

Christina Hilo, BAYANIHAN Filipino Community Center,

Roberto Meneses, Jornaleros Unidos de Woodside,

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