Immigration advocacy groups across N.Y. pressure Schumer for path to citizenship

Members of Make the Road NY outside Sen. Schumer’s Brooklyn home. // Photo by Damali Ramirez/Long Island Advocate

By Damali Ramirez

Make the Road NY and other immigration advocacy groups are deploying tactics across New York City and Long Island to pressure U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer to deliver a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Over the summer, the Senate proposed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution promising $100 billion for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. However, last month the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonug, issued an opinion against the inclusion of immigration reform in the budget. The opinion set back the Democratic Party’s hopes of giving millions of Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status immigrants, farm workers and other essential workers their citizenship.

“We have the money, we have the majority in the Senate, we have the majority in the House, we have a Democratic White House,” said Natalia Aristizabal, the campaign director for immigrant justice for the Brooklyn-based Center of Popular Democracy. “It’s all about them feeling that they have to deliver to the immigrant community.”

What are TPS and DACA?

Temporary Protection Status is a program “granted by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to foreign-born individuals who are unable to return home due to conditions or circumstances preventing their country from adequately handling the return.” Conditions could refer to natural disasters, extreme violence, ongoing armed conflict, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a program created by President Barack Obama in 2012 intended to offer protection of deportation for young undocumented immigrants bought to the country illegally by their parents. The program has various eligibility requirements for recipients, such as entering the country under age 16, continuously residing in the U.S. from June 15, 2007, to the present, having some form of education and more.

In a non-scientific poll conducted through Instagram, more respondents knew what DACA was than TPS. In total, 104 people responded to the survey, mainly in the 15–35 age range.

Under the original $3.5 trillion budget resolution, 11 million immigrants would have been granted legal permanent residency and citizenship.

Tactics on Long Island

Recently, Make the Road NY unveiled 13 bus-stop advertisements across every Long Island congressional district, showing the faces of four Long Island residents and active leaders who would benefit from immigration reform.

Eliana Fernandez, the lead organizer of Make the Road NY, said, “We’re trying to put the human face to our campaign so that elected officials see that when they’re talking about immigration or stuff related to that. [We’re] not just a number.”

The group also bought a full-page ad on Newsday, which encouraged readers to call Schumer and ensured that local officials also understood their demands.

Fernandez said the organization will continue to hold protests and other tactics across Long Island, New York City and Washington, D.C. to pressure and hold officials accountable until immigration reform happens.

Tactics in Brooklyn

On Oct. 13, the New York Communities for Change, the New York Immigration Coalition and other allies joined Make the Road NY in protesting outside of Schumer’s Brooklyn home.

“It’s been 30 years since meaningful immigration reform in this country, and the time is now, We just can’t keep waiting,” said Theresa Thanjan, senior manager of member engagement New York City of NYIC.

During the protest, members of different organizations read letters that constituents wrote to Schumer advocating for immigration reform. A live band performed to celebrate Latinx/Hispanic music and culture. Although the loud music and chants grabbed pedestrians’ attention, some residents expressed their frustration to protesters.

Leidy Johanna Cubezos, above, and Natalia Aristizabal, below, sending a clear message to Schumer about immigration reform. // Photo by Damali Ramirez/Long Island Advocate

“Maybe you’re upset because, I don’t know, maybe too much noise in front of your house, in front of your park, in your sidewalks, call Senator Schumer. He has the answer,” Aristizabal shouted.

The organizations also left a truck parked in front of Schumer’s home as a “reminder of all immigrants who can’t wait longer for the safety and protection their families need.”

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The Long Island Advocate is a multimedia news organization at Hofstra University’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication where students gain valuable real-world experience producing news and features for online platforms. We have partnered with Garden City-based LIHerald.com.

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