Sunday was International Migrants Day.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, thousands of New Yorkers braved the on-again off-again rain to rally near the United Nations and join the March for Immigrant New York, organized by the New York Immigration Coalition.
Union 1199 SEIU members stood out in their yellow rain ponchos among the sponsoring eighty-five organizations that represented immigrant rights and advocacy, legal services, faith, civil rights, LGBTWI, women’s rights, and anti-violence groups.
Together they were sending a clear message to the upcoming Trump administration: We are here to stay!
Rally participants pledged to help protect and defend immigrant New Yorkers, and fight back against hate and anti-immigrant policies.
Jamaican-born Minister Patricia Malcolm of Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH) and the Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform was one of the first speakers to address the rally.
Adamant that a betrayal of our values will not be tolerated at this pivotal time in history, she said, “We fear for our freedom in this nation of immigrants. Now more than ever, we must oppose the separation of families, support DACA, and fight to ensure that all children have the opportunity for a bright future.”
She emphasized how, “We must condemn the very thought of a Muslim registry, and promote compassion for refugees.”
Among the electeds, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Congresswoman Nydia Vasquez joined the rally, pledging their support for New York’s immigrants, many who feel tremendous fear and uncertainty.
“New York is and always will be a sanctuary city,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
In a firebrand manner Public Advocate Letitia James reassured the gathering, “New York City will always stand behind our immigrants.”
She acknowledged, “With the recent spike in acts of hate against immigrant populations, it is more critical than ever to affirm the rights of our immigrant brothers and sisters and their vital place in our city. We will never allow anyone to normalize hate.”
Exhibiting courage in her public testimony, the undocumented mother to a U.S citizen child, Sara Martinez spoke from the heart, “I am in fear and concern about what’s to come.” This Ecuadorian from Brooklyn continued, “Immigrants like me are only helping to improve our communities; we work hard to support our families and we do not deserve to be treated as scapegoats.”
Community organizer Aber Kawas for the Arab American Association of New York told how his father was deported in a rise of post-9/11 Islamaphobia and anti-immigrant legislation. He denounced this treatment toward Muslims and other immigrants, pointing out how hate crimes toward these communities have increased since the Trump election.
After the speakers, the “March for Immigrant NY” began along East 48th Street to Trump Tower, taking the message of resilience and hope directly to the president-elect.
On a crowded 5th Avenue, there were occasional voices of an opposition yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump!” One man was heard to shout: Give him a chance! Other passing shoppers as well as vendors expressed approval with the march. The occasional vehicle honking in support added to the thousands who pledged to protect “Immigrant New York.”
The hashtag #ImmigrantNY was the number one trending hashtag on twitter.