NEW YORK—With more than 170 events around the country planned Saturday, immigrant groups are keeping pressure on Congress to address immigration reform.
In New York, an Oct. 5 March for Immigrant Dignity & Respect intends to send a clear message: The 11 million undocumented immigrants in United States need to be addressed. And, as one organizer put it, “the time is now.”
The New York Immigrant Coalition (NYIC), one of the main organizers of the event in New York City, already has more than 300 participants signed up on it’s Facebook page. The event is to start at noon with a rally on Cadman Plaza and then continue with a march over the Brooklyn Bridge.
“We want a bill with a path to citizenship—that’s why we’re marching,” said Jacqueline Esposito, director of immigration advocacy with NYIC.
Although not ideal, she considers the new immigration bill, introduced by House Democrats two days ago, a step in the right direction. “It does have a path to citizenship. What it doesn’t have is any Republican co-sponsors,” she said. That’s why now is the right time to let the message be heard, she added.
“Nobody wants to be in a situation when we have millions of people who’re living in the shadows in the United States. It’s not good for anybody,” said Esposito. She said the bill would “make sure that there are ways that people can come to the country.”
Many participants face the risk of deportation by publicly stating their undocumented status. That is the case for Louis Serrano, freelancer with CultureStrike magazine. Serrano worked with several artists to help create the signs and banners for Saturday’s march in New York City.
He didn’t seem to need much convincing to help the NYIC. “They’re my friends,” he said. “I wouldn’t help just anybody.”
There a over 500,000 undocumented immigrants in New York City alone, according to Fiscal Policy Institute 2007 data.