A coalition of immigration groups in New York joined forces last weekend with two members of Congress at a Brooklyn rally to call President Obama to end what they described as the “senseless and unjust” deportation of Caribbean and other immigrants.
The New York Immigration Coalition, comprising many immigrant groups in the metropolitan area, joined Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ilinois) and local elected officials and Caribbean immigrants at rally over the weekend at Kings County Hospital Center in Central Brooklyn in a plea to the president “to take executive action with the stroke of a pen” to undo some of damage caused by harsh immigration enforcement policies.
“It’s important that our Latino brothers and sisters not bear the brunt of the broken immigration system,” declared Clarke, host of the event, who represents the 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn, the largest district of Caribbean nationals in the United States.
“So we need to be shoulder to shoulder with them. We’re all in this together,” she added.
“Across this nation, we see how our broken immigration system tears families apart,” she continued. “It affects families of all different backgrounds, ethnicities and races.”
Gutierrez, a leading voice in the U.S. Congress for comprehensive immigration reform, and the New York Immigration Coalition urged Caribbean and other immigrants to join a “Pen Campaign” by writing President Obama .
“We elected him to the White House to be our champion. He can end this massive deportation,” Gutierrez said.
“It’s a shame in America that we take our young men and women and deport them,” he added.
“I’m here to ask every one of you to do it (write Obama) in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform,” he continued.
Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the first ever Haitian to be elected to the city Council, said “the issue of deportation is a crime to the immigrant community.
“This is unacceptable,” he stressed. “We have to stand together. We’re in the same boat together. This country is run by immigrants.”
The New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella policy and advocacy organization of about 200 groups in New York that work with immigrants and refugees, said anti-immigrant forces have repeatedly blocked any legislative efforts to fix the “broken immigration system.
“Given the bleak legislative outlook, groups are looking to the president to take actions that don’t depend on Congress,” said the group’s executive director Chung-Wha Hong.
“We salute congress members Clarke and Gutierrez for their sustained commitment to achieving common-sense fixes to our immigration system,” she added. “They stand in contrast to those in Washington who refuse to move us forward.”
Hong said the Obama administration has, over the last two years, deported a record 780,000 immigrants, including a large number of Caribbean nationals, “most of whom are the very people the president has said should be allowed to legalize their status.”
Bishop Orlando Findlayter, the Jamaican-born chairman of the Brooklyn-based Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH), said he was delighted to participate in the rally.
“The broken immigration policy of the US is creating tremendous stress in our community,” he said. “We applaud the Hon. Yvette Clarke for her leadership.
“We also salute the Hon. Luis Gutierrez for his passion and being relentless in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Brant Douglas, a national of St. Kitts and Nevis, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Baruch College, City University of New York, told the rally that he was “undocumented and unashamed.
“I’m church-going, and am unashamed,” he said, adding that there are over 65,000 students like him, who graduate annually from college and “end up in a dead-end situation.
Douglas lamented that hope for undocumented immigrants, like him, is “mired by political ideology.”