Demanding Rights for Undocumented Immigrants
From El Diario
April 21, 2004

By Rosa Margarita Murphy

Various civil rights organizations demonstrated in front of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Building in Manhattan to protest the recent arrests of undocumented immigrants in local airports and request reforms in immigration laws.

Members of the Fifth Avenue Committee in Brooklyn organized the protest, which included many youths who criticized and condemned the practices of the Department of Homeland Security for having detained immigrants because of their physical appearance.

”We support the people who have been detained. We believe that it is not just for people who are trying to work and reunite themselves with their families to be treated like criminals,” said Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee.

The activists who gathered to protest, expressed their displeasure at the events of the past week, when civil employees of the Department of Homeland Security arrested more than 130 undocumented immigrants on domestic flights in airports in New York and Newark.

“We are asking that all the people in the United States be treated equally and that they respect their rights,” protested De la Uz.

Sporting posters reading, “Don’t separate our families,” “Stop the Detentions,” and “We are not all criminals,” the protestors walked in a circle, while they shouted, “The city is united, it will never be defeated” among other phrases.

De la Uz thinks that the current immigration laws force immigrants to take drastic decisions and risk their lives in order to reunite with their loved ones.

"If the laws were more humane, the people would be able to reunite with their families and work without problems,” she said. Sam J. Miller, 26 years old and of Jewish heritage, said that he joined the protest because it bothered him to know that human beings are punished and mistreated simply because they have Latin or African accents. “I was born here. Two generations ago, my families came from Russia and Poland,” said Miller. The only thing the [Immigration and Naturalization Service] and some organizations do is to feed the fear. It hurts to me because many people in this nation must live with that fear,"

One youth held a poster that said, “We are all immigrants,” and demanded that the government stop practicing racial profiling. “I am here as a Jew, a Caucasian who has certain privileges, I do not have to face the discrimination that is a problem for out communities. I am against the institutionalized hate that is affecting all of us,” added Miller.

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Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Triggs

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