Students prepare to begin a hunger strike outside Senator Charles Schumer's office.
Beyond Borders, United States

Three New York Groups Rally To Draw Attention To Immigration Reform

June 9, 2010 By Alison Bowen
Students prepare to begin a hunger strike outside Senator Charles Schumer's office.

Students prepare to begin a hunger strike outside Senator Charles Schumer's office.

Three different New York groups rallied last week to draw attention to immigration reform.

At the beginning of the week, students from the New York State Youth Leadership Council began a hunger strike outside Senator Charles Schumer’s Manhattan office.

Ten strikers continued throughout the week, sleeping on the sidewalk outside his office to pressure him into advancing the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

On Friday night, the group hosted a prayer ceremony with flashlights, electric candles and personal stories from strikers, labeling it a vigil for 70,000 students who they say aren’t able to pursue education dreams because of their immigration status.

And in the third straight week of staged civil disobedience, 56 people were arrested in downtown New York as they attempted to block traffic to raise awareness for immigration reform.

Those arrested included three members of the City Council: Daniel Dromm, Brad Lander and Julissa Ferreras.

At the rally preceding the arrests, speakers criticized President Barack Obama’s move to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and again asked him to repeal Arizona’s law requiring proof of citizenship.

And a third group calling for immigration reform in the city fasted within sight of the Statue of Liberty. Make the Road New York, a group helping immigrants in the city, organized more than 40 people to fast for 72 hours in an effort to highlight problems in the immigration system.

During the fast, high school and college students came to a church to also press for the DREAM Act.

At a different church on the fast’s second day, they brought religious leaders together with advocates to ask the state’s Department of Corrections to stop cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that enforces immigration law. Right now, ICE agents are at the city’s Rikers Island jail facility, helping to sort out illegal immigrants and funnel them into deportation proceedings.

About Alison Bowen

Alison is a Missouri native and New York City freelance writer who has wanted to cover Latin America since studying Spanish in Central America. After moving to Brooklyn, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Daily News, the Manhattan Times and Women’s eNews. She earned a master’s degree in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University. Her thesis focused on immigration policies after September 11, including counterterrorism measures, and their effects on the daily lives of immigrants in New York City.