‘Our city. Our coun­try’

Un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, sup­port­ers rail against U.S. pol­icy

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mary E. O'Leary

NEW HAVEN — It was not just stu­dents who are in limbo, but fam­i­lies from Haiti and Cen­tral Amer­ica whose spe­cial pro­tec­tions are be­ing elim­i­nated that brought more than 300 peo­ple to rally for re­vi­sions to im­mi­gra­tion laws Thurs­day night.

They lis­tened to speak­ers and chanted as they marched from the steps of First and Sum­mer­field United Methodist Church to the Su­pe­rior Court and then to City Hall.

Emily Al­men­darez, a sopho­more at Yale Univer­sity, talked about her fa­ther who im­mi­grated from Hon­duras more than two decades ago and has re­mained here un­der Tem­po­rary Pro­tec­tive Sta­tus, which was given to per­sons es­cap­ing civil

war or en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ters.

Nicaraguan res­i­dents lost th­ese pro­tec­tions last week and Hon­durans are sched­uled to lose it next July.

She said those ral­ly­ing want a clean Dream Act that will con­tinue to pro­tect young peo­ple brought here as chil­dren by their un­doc­u­mented par­ents, but they don’t want to leave other im­mi­grants be­hind.

“We fight­ing for a clean Dream Act — yes. But not at the cost of other mem­bers of our com­mu­nity. Not through ... ig­nor­ing parts of the 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented. We will not throw any­one un­der the bus for the rights of a se­lected few,” Al­men­darez told the crowd.

“Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets,” they shouted as they marched. “Whose city? Our city. Whose coun­try? Our coun­try.”

Yemi­mar Cortes, 19, an un­doc­u­mented stu­dent from Mex­ico, said she has been here since she was two years old.

“If there is not a clean Dream Act I would feel it in my fam­ily, I would feel it in my loved ones and I would feel it in my un­doc­u­mented com­mu­nity,” she said. She then de­scribed her fam­ily.

Cortes said her mother has been clean­ing houses for 20 years. She said her fa­ther works two jobs — con­struc­tion dur­ing the day and as a mu­si­cian at night. She said they have no health in­sur­ance and were al­ways afraid of go­ing to the hos­pi­tal.

Cortes said a clean Dream Act should pro­tect all im­mi­grants who work hard. “As soon as leg­is­la­tion hurts one of those peo­ple ... that’s when we say ‘no Dream Act,’” she said. “We are de­mand­ing no more de­por­ta­tions. We are de­mand­ing that we pro­tect TPS. We are sim­ply de­mand­ing to be hu­man be­ings liv­ing in this world without be­ing scared that we will no longer be able to sur­vive.”

“Th­ese things that have been go­ing on in the im­mi­grant com­mu­nity have al­ways been racist . ... We are here to stay,” Cortes said. “We are not a chess game for th­ese politi­cians to play with.”

An­thony Reyes, the son of Mar­cos Reyes who has taken sanc­tu­ary in First and Sum­mer­field United Methodist Church for the past three months, thanked all those who visit his fa­ther.

“This san­tu­ary has wel­comed us with open arms, but it is not the warm em­brace and com­fort of his ac­tual home,” he said. “Times are in­cred­i­bly tough and un­cer­tain times for my fam­ily and I, but we con­tinue ... to hold one an­other up when we feel we are fall­ing.” Reyes, his par­ents and two sis­ters are from Meri­den.

Two Yale stu­dents came to speak on be­half of Vi­viana An­da­zola Mar­quez, a se­nior at the univer­sity, whose fa­ther is be­ing held by Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment in Colorado on an ex­pe­dited de­por­ta­tion or­der after she had pe­ti­tioned to change his sta­tus.

“Ev­ery day ICE tears fam­i­lies apart without dis­cre­tion, without con­science,” one of the stu­dents, Maya Jenk­ins, said. She called the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem “fun­da­men­tally racist, un­just and un­ac­cept­able. As stu­dents, as neigh­bors and as peo­ple we have a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity to take a stand and say ‘Hell no, to ICE.””

Jesus Mo­rales Sanchez ad­dressed an­other con­cern of the large crowd that was rep­re­sen­tented by a range of ages.

Stand­ing on the steps of the Su­pe­rior Court, he said ICE is pick­ing up im­mi­grants who come there as de­fen­dants or vic­tims.

“They are putting them­selves at risk of be­ing caught by ICE,” he said.

“That is not a co­in­ci­dence. We have pros­e­cu­tors in th­ese very courts called ICE on peo­ple. They say it is their pro­to­col ... I call that bull...,” he said.

“Peo­ple are com­ing here for mi­nor in­ci­dents and they have been taken away by ICE . ... We are not go­ing to al­low it and we have the names of pros­e­cu­tors who are en­gaged in this,” Mo­rales said.

Cather­ine Aval­one / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia pho­tos

ABOVE: Yen­i­mar Cortes, 19, of New Haven speaks at a rally against im­mi­gra­tion law Thurs­day at First and Sum­mer­field UMC in New Haven. Tashi Sanchez-Laura is to her right. BE­LOW: Pro­test­ers gather at First and Sum­mer­field UMC in New Haven Thurs­day.

Cather­ine Aval­one / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Fausto Canelas of Bridge­port takes a selfie at the rally for un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants Thurs­day in New Haven.

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