Participants in the road trip and their supporters held a rally in front of the New York Immigration Coalition's office
Dispatches, North America

Immigration Reform Road Trip Kicks Off In New York City; Organizers Call For Comprehensive Law In 2010

February 16, 2010 By Roque Planas

NEW YORK — With immigration reform losing impetus, reform advocates are not just taking to the streets — they’re taking to the road.

A group of twelve immigration reform advocates, suitcases and sleeping bags in hand, gathered for a press conference Monday before heading off on a five-day road trip organized by the New York Immigration Coalition. The caravan will visit ten cities throughout New York state, where the participants will meet with other reform advocates, community organizations and elected officials, hoping to convince them of the need to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year.

Saúl Linares, a Long Island factory worker who took part in the road trip, said in an interview that he supported comprehensive immigration reform because the current system makes life difficult for undocumented workers.

“These are people who have been working here for a long time, paying taxes, learning English, no criminal record,” Linares said, referring to undocumented immigrants.

At the press conference, the participants in the caravan told personal stories of their experience with immigration.

Osmán Canales, a 21 year-old immigrant from El Salvador and an immigrants’ rights activist, said he decided to participate in the caravan because growing up in New York City he witnessed hate crimes committed against immigrants, as well as the economic vulnerability that comes along with being undocumented.

“It is time to give equal rights to everyone in this country,” Canales said.

Several of the speakers voiced opposition to the practice of raiding workplaces to detain and deport undocumented workers.

“In the course of this five-day trip, nearly 5,000 people will be deported and more than 5,000 will be detained, and we’ll be no closer to a workable, common-sense immigration system that serves the national interest,” Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition Chung-Wha Hong said in a press release.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) removed 356,739 undocumented immigrants from the country in 2008, according to the most recent information available on the agency’s Web site.

Deycy Avitia of the New York Immigration Coalition spoke at the press conference

Deycy Avitia of the New York Immigration Coalition spoke at the press conference

The New York Immigration Coalition favors legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States, reforming the visa granting process, targeted punishments for repeated violations of immigration and labor law and respecting all peoples’ due process rights.

President Obama indicated last spring that he would make comprehensive immigration reform one of his priorities for 2010, but has since retreated from the issue.

At his State of the Union speech on Jan. 27, he said, “We should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secure our borders and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.”

While Obama’s comment indicated that his attitude toward immigration remains unchanged, he mentioned the topic only briefly toward the end of the speech and did not make specific recommendations to fix the problem, reinforcing the perception that immigration reform will not be one his priorities in 2010.

With the Democratic party having lost its supermajority in the Senate and its future uncertain in upcoming mid-term elections, immigration reform faces an uphill battle in Congress as well. The inability of the Congress members to reach consensus is one of immigration reform’s greatest obstacles.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, has been working on a comprehensive reform bill that has yet to materialize.

“Now I’ve said all along, even before last Tuesday with the Massachusetts election, we need a bipartisan bill — two Democrats and two Republicans to produce it,” Schuman said at a press conference on Jan. 28, referring to immigration reform. “We’re not there yet. We’re still working on getting our Republicans, but we’re talking to people who have a lot of interest and enthusiasm, and our intention is to move forward,” Schumer said.

Linares was disappointed that Obama had softened his position on immigration reform. “One year later, he’s not talking about it anymore,” Linares said.

Margarita Casaine, who immigrated from the Dominican Republic in the 1980s, said she joined the road trip out of sympathy for workers who became separated from their families not only by distance, but by the long hours many undocumented immigrants must work at low-paying jobs in order to make ends meet.

Though Margarita currently works an eight-hour day, when she first came to New York she said she worked 16 hours a day. “I saw my kids when I got up and when I got home they were asleep,” Casaine said.

Several participants in the road trip and attendees at the event also said they supported the DREAM Act, a bill that would grant in-state tuition to students in the state of their residence regardless of their immigration status. The House version of the bill has 106 co-sponsors and the Senate version has 32, but no action has been taken on the bill since it was introduced in March of last year.

“I am undocumented myself, and it (the DREAM Act) would allow me a way to go to college and obtain citizenship,” said one of the attendees, who had been born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved to New York when he was eight years old.

For Evelyn, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, immigration reform is a matter of personal security and planning for the future. She grew up in New Jersey, but pays out-of-state tuition because, unlike New York, the state does not recognize undocumented immigrants as residents for tuition purposes.

“So now, I’ve run out of money. I want to continue school, but I can’t do much in Jersey,” Evelyn said.

“I can’t drive, I can’t travel even within the country because of the fear of being deported,” Evelyn added. “I can’t do most of the things my friends do.”

Images: Roque Planas

20 Comments

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mmm says:

This bill is good for health of amaerica.China is getting benefit due to its large and young consumer population.Legalizing will create boom in economy.For those who oppose this bill are not right .How you can be happy seperating a us citizen child from a mother who is actually responsible for feeding and educating that kid.This kind of activity kills his patriotism and loyality toward this country.lot of people with US CITIZEN kids are living in third world countries due to this broken immigration system.Where is the fault of kid .that kid need same life style as u great citizen people since he is also citizen of this country.If parents have not committed any crime give them permission until kid becomes capable enough to take care of himself.

Aztlan Buster says:

Any politician who would support an amnesty for millions of uneducated, unskilled third-world sponges while we are experiencing the worst recession and highest unemployment rates in decades should be immediately recalled or impeached, including that knuckle-dragging Marxist NWO puppet in the White House.

Illegal aliens are criminals and parasites, one and all. Their very presence here and practically everything they do on U.S. soil is illegal. They need to be ferreted out, rounded up like cattle, punished for their numerous crimes, then booted back to whence they snuck in from with such extreme prejudice that they will never, ever think of violating our sovereignty again. Enough is enough.

RolandoSatanChan says:

Rolando Chan Amnesty will help this economy heal. As long as they pay back taxes. Alot of people thought it will is bad, but they do not know that these are the illegals who picked up the friuts, packed the food, fix your houses that earn low wages

Ana says:

I just want to comment on the comment of Aztlan Buster; you are unpatriotic common idiot. The things that you just said here shows that you are a hater, xenophobe and racist that America does not need, so go back to the hole from which you came and shut up. America was build by immigrants that have been coming here for centuries and not all immigrants that are coming to this country are criminals! Most of them are hard working people who ended up in this country because we did not care to strengthen our borders for decades, so they came. We are responsible for that and we should take care of the problem. The only way to deal with the problem is legalize those who are here already for years, so they can pay taxes (many of them already do) and reform the law, so we can prevent the same problem in the future. So, my dear fellow citizens stop blaming everybody else for the problem that we created. If we don’t reform the system we won’t have 10 million illegal immigrants in this country in 10 years, but 100 milliions and what will we do then?

Warof2010 says:

8,300,000 – the number of known illegals, using invalid SS numbers, working at known places of employment.

8,000,000 illegals earning $10 an hour, equals $20,800 a year, that’s 8,000,000 X $20,800 equals $166,400,000,000; that’s $166.4 billion that American workers aren’t taking home for their wives, and children.

Remember all of those jobs that used to be available for teenagers.

But wait there’s more; let’s suppose 1/2 of those unemployed American workers, are drawing unemployment, at a very modest $300 a week, $15,600 a year times 7 million American workers; that’s another $109.2 billion dollars out of taxpayer pockets. (Most of the state unemployment funds are broke).

So those 8 million illegally employed illegals are costing us $275.6 billion;…but wait there’s more, they send $65 billion dollars home every year, so that money isn’t even spent in our United States to support businesses.

That’s $340.6 billion dollars that 8,000,000 illegals are costing us and remember, that doesn’t include the cost of their Welfare, Food Stamps, Section-8, Healthcare, Education, or EITC.

Warof2010 says:

Anchor Babies

At $25,000 per birth, the initial cost to us, just for the 400,000 ANCHOR BABIES being born per year, is $10 billion dollars.

Education costs per child $10,000 per year, $120,000 per child for 12 years of education, another 48 BILLION DOLLARS FOR EDUCATION

EVERY YEAR, WITH THE BIRTH OF 400,000 ANCHOR BABIES, AMERICANS INCUR AN ADDITIONAL DEBT OF $58 BILLION DOLLARS; EVERY YEAR, AD INFINITUM

AND THAT’S JUST THE COST OF BIRTH AND EDUCATION. IT DOESN’T INCLUDE WELFARE, FOOD STAMPS, SECTION-8 HOUSING, ETC, OR THE RELATIVES THAT WILL NOW BE ALLOWED INTO OUR UNITED STATES. THE COSTS ARE BANKRUPTING US.

IT’S TIME TO END BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP FOR ILLEGALS

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ChicagoCitizen says:

The reason that amnesty has been taken off the table is because Americans DO NOT WANT IT. We want OUR laws enforced against illegal aliens who enter our country illegally (especially from mexico), who work illegally and live illegally while happily accepting (stealing) OUR welfare money, food stamps, free medical and cheap mortgage rates ILLEGALLY. Just because they can get away with a crime for a while doesn’t grant them rights in someone else’s country nor does it grant them rights to citizenship. America doesn’t need 20 MILLION new criminals and their 30 MILLION family members (from chain migration) as citizens.

The only thing broken about our immigration system is the fact that it doesn’t keep these illegal criminals from living, working and stealing tax money IN OUR COUNTRY.

Over 3 MILLION illegal mexicans, exactly like these ‘marchers’ , were granted amnesty by the U.S. over 20 years ago AND THEY STILL WON’T ASSIMILATE, WON’T SPEAK ENGLISH AND WON’T STOP WHINING ABOUT AMNESTY -FOR THE ADDITIONAL 20 MILLION ILLEGAL MEXICANS AND OTMS’S SINCE THE LAST AMNESTY.

Give it up ! America is for Americans and LEGAL immigrants.

Jocelynn says:

Illegal aliens are lawbreakers and criminals. All illegal aliens need to be deported. No more amnesties!

Jocelynn says:

We don’t need to roundup all illegal aliens in order to rid our country of them. If we pass tough laws and ENFORCE them, we could cut illegal aliens off from jobs by making it impossible for them to get hired. This could be done by making the E-verify system mandatory for all employers to use. We also need to make the penalties for employers knowingly hiring an illegal alien so severe that few employers would even consider doing it. We need to make it impossible for illegal aliens to be able to sign up for any social service program by making the E-verify program mandatory for verifying all applicants. If we implement these laws, millions of illegal aliens would self-deport. Most of the rest of them would eventually be rounded up by police as they violate other laws.

American K says:

the ICE bus should have been at this kick off. it seems that everyone interviewed was an ILLEGAL alien.
ana, get real. there is nothing racist with wanting our laws enforced. america was not built by illegal aliens, it was built by hard working american citizens. the only thing illegals have done is taken away good paying jobs and changed them to low paying jobs. construction is a fine example of that. those jobs used to provide a living wage for americans but tax paying americans cannot afford to work for the $10 per hour the illegal alien gets. don’t even say that illegal aliens are paying their fair share of taxes because by the time their children get free education, free school breakfast and lunch, food stamps, welfare and the parents claim max.# dependents and get the EIC on their tax return, they have paid far less than what they’ve taken for the year. the remainder is on the american citizen tax payer. we are tired of supporting illegal aliens. they do not deserve another dime. no in state tuition, no extra benefits and no amnesty ever!

wasteful says:

If these people are such a benefit then why arent they in their own countrys providing goods,services,products?
Il answer it for you ,,They are a drain thats why.
Even if you legalized them and some orry hope they can ever be a net positive which was asked during a senate hearing with Greenspan who stated “Illegal immigrants legalized or not will not be positive in funds for social security but in fact be a net drain”
Their offspring will dropout at 60% by tenth grade,and according to FBI stats they are fives times,yes FIVE TIMES to commit crime.
More so than an average caucasian american,,5 times.
Phoenix AR kidnapping capital of America.
Mexico city is ok here it comes more dangerous than Iraq.
More Americans are killed every year in America by illegal aliens by shootings,stabbings,car accidents,than in iraq and afghanistan combined..

You dont need to go to the middle east to find beheadings,bodys hung from overpasses,torture,etc etc,why just head on down to Mexico.

Think its worth having a open border?

Paul says:

If the President even hints of an amnesty——try to stay home and do not
go to work for a week.
Don’t spend money. And call your Representatives.

We have too many unemployed American citizens and too many illegals working.

Jocelynn says:

mmm says:
“If parents have not committed any crime give them permission until kid becomes capable enough to take care of himself.”

But the parents probably have committed a crime. Every illegal alien who has worked in the United States has committed one or more crimes, and some are felonies. These crimes include ID theft, document fraud, Social Security fraud, employment “I-9 Form” fraud, conspiracy to violate immigration laws, and income tax evasion.

ChicagoCitizen says:

Let’s not forget the fact that none of these illegals have a single, traceable identity which they use in the U.S. Their original mexican identity shows their criminal records so the one they are currently using (purchased from MS-13 mexican mafia in the U.S.) is the ‘clean’ one they use to gather welfare benefits and get jobs illegally.

Americans have to live here using ONE identity while the illegals (especially mexicans) not only get away with using an assumed identity, they are also granted ‘amnesty’ for ALL their crimes (rape, murder, paedophelia, theft) by our iberals who can’t bring themselves to enforce a law?

It’s not a level playing field when one side is allowed to clear their criminal backgrounds and start over with a new fake identity while the other side is saddled with whatever identity they were legally born with?

Linda says:

Unfair discriminatory practice at University of Michigan

All our family members have been legal residents of Michigan; living and working here for more than a decade. Even without US citizenship or green card status we have fulfilled all of our residential responsibilities such as paying income, sales and property taxes. We own a home in Michigan and contribute to our community regardless of our citizenship status.

In the last three years we have been repeatedly disappointed, each time our son’s in-state residency application was denied by the University of Michigan. We feel strongly discriminated against and unfairly penalized by being required to pay three times higher college tuition than any other student with parents who live, work and contribute to their community in Michigan.

We think the U of M, as a public university, should discontinue the unfair practice of classifying legal residents by their visa status; disregarding their legal rights and economical contribution to the state and the country. Other institutions including Washtenaw Community College and Lake Superior State University have far more equitable policies regarding the residency status of non-citizens who live, work and own property in the state of Michigan.

We request your help in shedding light on this unfair discriminatory practice. We would additionally appreciate your support in convincing the U of M to improve its existing residency guidelines to be fair and objective.

Hope under you and our efforts, all those students like my son can be treated fairly as human with feeling in Michigan, USA.

It fits our needs perfectly the advantage of immigration reform on the country: Greater supply of unskilled workers, a younger workforce, and skilled workers in needed sectors. But there is also a disadvantage of immigration reform like Greater poverty, more educational cost, lower unskilled wage levels, and increased danger of terrorism. Thanks to the post!

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