WOODSIDE, NY (Apr. 24) – –Immigration rights groups representing Latino, Filipino, Korean, South Asian, and Indigenous South American numbering about 150 assembled together April 19 to march along Roosevelt Avenue to demand an end to random police raids, arrests, ticketing against immigrants, and scam employment agencies.
The march, which began at 69th Street and ended on 83rd Street, ran up Filipino immigrant businesses as well as South Asian and Latino immigrant-owned businesses in a show of multi-ethnic solidarity for a common cause– dignity for all immigrants.
Amongst the key organizers and sponsors of the march were the Jornaleros Unidos de Woodside (United Day Laborers of Woodside), Philippine Forum, NAFCON (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Anakbayan NY/NJ, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Sisa Pikari Labor Center, No Raids Committee in Queens, BAYAN USA and the May 1st Coalition for Workers and Immigrant Rights.
The event come at a critical time as Capitol Hill turns its attention to U.S.immigration policy next month. Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama announced that U.S. immigration reform would be a subject on the table of lawmakers this May. The following week, two major national labor federations, AFL-CIO and Change to Win, announced their united endorsement for comprehensive immigration reform.
According to the grassroots immigrant rights groups that joined the march, these developments call for more urgent pressure coming from the most oppressed and victimized from the broken immigration system– immigrants themselves– and the immigrants of Queens are ready to speak out.
They say that Latino day laborers stand along Roosevelt Avenue generally looking for work and have founded a protective community for themselves. Despite this, the rights groups claim that anti-immigrant attacks by the NYPD are increasing, such as random ticketing for standing on the sidewalk, culminated in an arrest and detention of 10 day laborers for no apparent reason other than standing this past October 2008.
“Yesterday, we wanted to show the local community that it’s not just the day laborers that are fighting but the rest of the community. We also wanted to show the real problems that are going on in the community especially the police harassment,” stated Felix Ortiz, a day laborer with the Jornaleros Unidos de Woodside and victim of the said harassment by the police.
“Together we are fighting for our human and constitutional rights,” said Attorney Felix Vinluan from National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON).”And we will not stop until we have equality amongst all people of all races.
The Roosevelt Avenue march comes weeks before the upcoming May 1st rally and march for immigrant rights in Union Square at 4pm. Every May 1st since 2006, thousands of New Yorkers have rallied and marched for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to legalization for all, end to ICE raids and deportations, and swift family re-unification for separated families.