Paving the Way for Immigrant Voices

A local immigrant’s rights organization held a rally in downtown Brooklyn on February 15, 2017.

Nearly one hundred people gathered outside federal immigration court on Varick Street in response to the detention of Daniel Ramirez Medina and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids that ‘separated hundreds of immigrant families nationwide last week’.

The signs of the Make the Road New York Rally. (Emma Cassidy)

While visiting his father’s home, Daniel Ramirez Medina was arrested and detained by ICE officials. ICE officials who were originally in search for Medina’s father, arrested him as well. However, confusion with the legality of the detainment developed when discovering Medina’s DACA status.

DACA protects individuals from deportation and allows them to work legally within the United States for two years. Since Medina renewed his DACA on May 5, 2016, his lawyers claim that under the law his status in the United States should not be stripped as long as the two years have not passed.

A woman chanting within the Make the Road New York Rally (Andrew Hinderaker/New York Daily News)

Despite the frigid temperatures, people of all races, sexual orientations, and genders banded together, chanting in both Spanish and English for the release of Medina. The chants were directed to President Trump and said listen, “escuchado” and spoke of togetherness “estamos unidos”.

The organization responsible for this outcry is Make the Road New York, a group set on creating a pathway for immigrants. The organization works to help hispanic immigrants get the legal, educational, and social support required to maintain residency in the US.

George Hernandez, a Mexican immigrant and member of Make the Road New York, spoke of the efforts the organization makes to support fellow immigrants like himself.

Hernandez came to America from Mexico twenty years ago. Through the assistance of Make the Road New York he said he got “help with English classes”.

Although Mexican Americans have gotten a negative representation by the president, Hernandez remained hopeful for the future. However, some individuals within the crowd did not share Mr. Hernandez same optimism.

When asked about her feelings about America under the new president, Erin Edmison, a woman’s rights activist, said that “this is not the America we live in” and that she’s “never been more scared”. Mutual feelings regarding the president and the future were shared among many of the members within the crowd.

A man holding a sign in the rally. (Emma Cassidy)

Among the members of the rally, there were about 50 police officers from the NYPD. Although many of the officers wished to not speak of their personal beliefs about their stances on the detainment of Daniel Ramirez Medina, Sergeant Arthur Smarch spoke of what he wishes individuals would remember during the upcoming years.

Similarly to the wish of those within the rally, Sgt. Arthur Smarch, wished for people to remember “that we’re human beings”. Whether the current issue is immigration or police brutality, his stance remains one of humanistic value.

With the years ahead, the organization hopes that their voice will be heard. But they fear that fellow DACA granted immigrants are in danger of the same fate as Daniel Ramirez Medina.