On April 5, New York City immigrant workers and families joined forces with immigrants across the country in a national day of action calling on President Barack Obama to issue an executive order for deportation relief. The #2million2many #Not1More Deportation Campaign rally took place in front of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan.
The protest is prompted by the record deportations under the Obama administration, which are anticipated to hit the milestone of two million removals since he took office. They say their families can’t wait for relief and that the President doesn’t have to wait for Congress to use his executive authority to stop the suffering. He could expand the deferred action program he created for immigrant youth and suspend deportations immediately.
In New York City, immigrant workers face the consequences of the Obama policy every day. Workers live in fear of speaking out about wage theft and other exploitative working conditions; some wage earners cannot drive because they are unable to obtain licenses; children face separation from their families, all because of an unjust and inhumane system, which the Obama administration insists on defending.
According to Ligia Gualpa, Executive Director of the Brooklyn-based Workers Justice Project, “The broken immigration laws hurts workers who are paying taxes, raising families, and contributing to our communities. Immigrant workers are frequently threatened with deportation when trying to organize or speak out about wages and working conditions. The members of Worker’s Justice Project (WJP) are standing with millions to demand an end to deportations and the need to pass a comprehensive immigration reform that protects the rights and dignity of all workers.”
“The threat and reality of deportations spread fear through our communities and often suppress the ability for our immigrant workforce to stand up for their rights,” added Valeria Treves, Executive Director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), a community-based workers’ rights group that organizes day laborers and domestic workers in Queens, NY. “We cannot continue to wait on Congress to pass immigration reform. Our President must take immediate action. He must bring justice to our immigrant communities and workforce. They deserve relief, respect for their human dignity and an end to deportations.”
“The failure to pass immigration reform has resulted in out-of-control enforcement of outdated laws,” said Gonzalo Mercado, Executive Director of El Centro del Inmigrante, a worker center in Staten Island, NY. “The further criminalization of immigrants, mass incarceration, and the daily separation of thousands of families will be remembered as one of the darkest moments in American history for generations to come. Stopping deportations until Comprehensive Immigration Reform is achieved is the right and moral thing to do.”
Maheen Chowdhury, a U.S citizen whose father was held in immigration detention for two years, spoke about the pain and suffering that his family endured while they were separated. “My father is from Bangladesh and has lived in the U.S. for twenty years, working as a cab driver, and supporting our family. He came to the U.S. to seek asylum because of the persecution he faced in Bangladesh. ICE came to our home early in the morning one day to arrest him because of an old deportation order from a decade ago. While he was in detention, we were afraid that without him we would lose our home. I had lost all hope. I felt like I had no future because my dad was not there to take care of us.”
“We can’t wait another day for Congress, because every day 1,100 families are broken apart by deportations. As South Asian communities,” explained Rishi Singh, a leader in the organization DRUM and a DACA youth, “we know all too well the impact of the detention and deportations, especially after 9/11, and we stand with the larger undocumented immigrant movement to tell President Obama and the Democratic Party that we demand an end to deportations and want administrative relief now.”
Sponsored by: Workers Justice Project (WJP), Centro del Inmigrante of Staten Island, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Damayan Migrant Workers, Adhikaar, New Sanctuary Movement, DRUM, Cabrini Immigrant Services, New York Immigration Coalition, May1 Coalition, Centro Tecun Uman, La Pena del Bronx, Million Worker March, Pakistan USA Freedom Forum, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns