Looking to pressure on elected officials to act on immigration reform, a group of New Yorkers set out Monday on a five-day road trip across the state to call for immediate action on the issue through rallies and meetings in ten cities and towns.
The “Road Trip for Our Future” includes U.S.-born and immigrant activists, with roots that trace back to South Korea, El Salvador, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, among other places. They will be blogging, tweeting and publishing pictures and videos online during their trip. The caravan is organized by the New York Immigration Coalition, the national Reform Immigration for America campaign and local organizations in several upstate communities, according to a press release.
“I am going on this ride … to fight for better conditions for immigrant working mothers who struggle so hard to put food on the table, while suffering the pain of rarely seeing their children awake,” says Margarita, a Dominican-born rider, on the group’s website. “I know many employers exploit immigrants and I want to see that end.”
Kevin, a 20-year-old second-generation Korean-American, says: “I’ve heard stories about seperated (sic) families, deported immigrant parents forced to leave their U.S. born children behind and young people not able to go live up to their potentials and dreams because of barriers accessing higher education.”
The caravan will stop in communities where the immigration debate has real-life consequences, the coalition said in its release. It will touch on Sodus, west of Syracuse, where according to organizers police have stopped residents on their way to church and turned them over to immigration authorities; on Syracuse, where Border Patrol officers have boarded trains and buses to inquire about the passengers’ immigration status; and in Batavia, home to a federal detention facility holding hundreds of immigrants and asylum seekers.
“President Obama has committed to passing immigration reform, and Senator (Chuck) Schumer is leading the effort in Congress,” said the Coalition’s executive director, Chung-Wha Hong. “But with the administration inexplicably ramping up enforcement of a system that they acknowledge is broken, and Congress faltering on so many issues of critical importance, we can’t afford to get mired in Washington gridlock.”
Hong noted that “nearly 5,000 people will be deported and more than 5,000 will be detained” in the time it will take the activists to complete their trip “and we’ll be no closer to a workable, common-sense immigration system that serves the national interest.”
Click here for the trip’s full schedule, including events in Carmel, Pittsford, Greece, Buffalo, Ithaca and a welcome party in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.