WPCNR MAIN STREET JOURNAL. From the 32BJ SEIU. May 1, 2017:
Hundreds of immigrants from around Westchester county gathered in front of Westchester County Government building late Monday afternoon, joining with labor organizations, community groups, and elected officials to declare that all Hudson Valley immigrants and refugees are “Here to Stay.”
The White Plains gathering was part of the largest national mobilization of immigrants and supporters since Donald Trump’s election. Channeling momentum from “day without an immigrant” events around the country, tens of thousands of diverse supporters rallied throughout the day for immigrant rights at events across the nation, all calling for an end to the Trump administration’s inhumane deportation strategy.
“The Trump administration’s systematic attempt to criminalize all undocumented immigrants is a threat to everyone’s civil liberties and this nation’s ideals,” said John Santos, 32BJ SEIU Hudson Valley Vice-President. “Today, immigrants and allies stood against the administration’s cruel assault to proclaim that we will not back down in the defense of immigrant rights, worker rights and human rights — this administration will not take away the promise of America for a nation of immigrants.”
Local immigrants shared short, forceful stories, backed by declarations of support from community leaders and the region’s elected officials.
“The City of White Plains is a diverse, vibrant and welcoming community,” said White Plains Mayor Tom Roach. “As Mayor, protecting the rights of all those who live, work and visit here is paramount. I stand with our brothers and sisters at SEIU 32BJ in support of those who are working hard in our community to make a better life for themselves and their families.”
“Today we honor all of our brothers and sisters in labor who paved the way for the rights workers now have,” said Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader Catherine Borgia. “To do this, we must carry on their fight. We live in an era when workers’ rights are under constant attack — now is the time for us to all work together to support legislation that enhances fair and just labor protections, wages, and benefits. Among these rights is humane treatment of our immigrant neighbors, this is why in Westchester we are working on comprehensive Immigration Protection legislation. This bill is aimed to forge trust between our immigrant communities and local police departments while standing up for the values we as Westchester residents hold.”
“It is time to stand up, to raise our voices with dignity,” said Luis Yumbla, Active Executive Director of Hudson Valley Community Coalition “In this present moment in which we are criminalized, our unity is urgent to stop this machinery of hatred, intolerance and attacks on our immigrant community. Only our action will sow this land of unity and solidarity for all. Together we are more, and together we will see the light of a dawn of justice.”
The theme was echoed by Jirandy Martinez, from the Community Resource Center: “We come together on this May Day in Westchester to demonstrate the important strength and power of collaboration and solidarity for the rights of our immigrant communities in this critical time in our nation. Today, we especially unite for the dignity and rights of all workers regardless of immigration status. It is together that our fight for justice will hold with grit and perseverance despite the divisive political creed this current administration stands by. Unidos and here to stay!”
The importance of the rally was summed up by 32BJ member and Peruvian immigrant Esther Ramirez: “When my daughter was a little girl and she came to union rallies with me, she’d ask me, ‘Why do we have to protest in the streets? ’I told her that we cannot win better wages without a fight; everything in this life that is worth having is a struggle. She understood this. Now all of us must understand that it’s time to speak up for immigrants and defend their families. It’s now our turn to stand up and speak out for justice for all.”