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Citizenship for all: A call from immigrant essential workers

About to cross the Manhattan Bridge, the lead banner reads: WeAreHome
Photo by Tequila Minsky

A path to citizenship is their demand! More than one thousand essential workers and allies rallied on Friday in Chinatown’s Columbus Park making their voices heard. 

Essential workers kept—and continue to keep— the city running when the city went on the pandemic Pause and the majority of citizenry followed directives to stay put, work from home, quarantine. 

These workers are in health care and home aid services, food preparation, delis, delivery, and transportation. They are home attendants continuing to care for their charges, bakers, cleaners. Unlike unionized essential transit and postal workers, they are frequently without representation, unseen, and often undocumented.  

Day laborers, a huge force of essential workers calling for immigration reform as the are about to cross the Manhattan Bridge.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Drivers from New York Taxi Workers Alliance followed the marchers as they crossed the Manhattan Bridge.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Drivers from New York Taxi Workers Alliance followed the marchers as they crossed the Manhattan Bridge.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)

On Friday, immigrant rights advocates were bringing their demand for the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for 5 million undocumented essential workers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA) beneficiaries, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients in the next federal infrastructure package. 

Banners carried on the streets while marching through Chinatown read: Immigrants are essential, Essential not Deportable, Immigration Reform for 11 Million. 

“For more than 15 months, millions of immigrants have served on the front lines of a global pandemic, all while living under the constant threat of family separation,” says Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “These actions remind us that our immigrant communities have always been essential and cannot wait any longer to breathe free.”

About to cross the Manhattan Bridge, taxis in solidarity.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Drivers from New York Taxi Workers Alliance followed the marchers as they crossed the Manhattan Bridge.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Marching through Chinatown to make the demands heard.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)
About to march across the Manhattan Bridge—workers and supporters from more than 40 immigrant and community organizations.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)

“Last week’s ruling on DACA makes it crystal clear that Washington can’t keep playing politics with the lives of immigrant New Yorkers and the hundreds of thousands like them across the country.” 

From Columbus Park through Chinatown, the ralliers marched across the Manhattan Bridge.

Friday’s march and rally were part of a series of community-led infrastructure actions in several cities across the country, including Washington DC, Chicago, and Philadelphia. 

Last week, the national movement scored a crucial victory when Senate Democrats announced that their infrastructure package would include a pathway to citizenship. 

Jose Lopez, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York further comments,  “Our neighbors and loved ones have been waiting for decades for a path to citizenship that they deserve. Throughout the pandemic immigrant essential workers put their life on the line to keep our communities safe.”

More than forty sponsoring organizations supported the mid-day action. 

These affected and allies come from the Southeast Asian, Arab-American, Chinese, Latin and Central American, Black, Jewish, Church, and community-based communities and also included health and farmers organizations.

State Senator Jessica Ramos adds, “It’s imperative that our federal government makes comprehensive immigration reform a priority and keeps a path to citizenship in this infrastructure package. All of our essential workers deserve to provide for their loved ones and take care of their communities without fear.”

Taxis in solidarity followed as the marchers braved through the mid-day sun while crossing the Manhattan Bridge. 

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Marching to the beat of the MinKwon Center about to cross the Bridge.
This marcher’s tee-shirt says it all.
Chinatown as a backdrop as 1000 ralliers approach the Manhattan Bridge.
Council Member Brad Lander (Democratic primary winner for Comptroller) at rally in Chinatown.
Rally for immigration reform at Columbus Park in Chinatown.
Rally for immigration reform with press at Columbus Park.
Marching through Chinatown.
Marching through Chinatown.
The people united will never be defeated.
Solidarity among over 40 groups.
Solidarity among over 40 groups.
Immigrants have families on the other side too.
Citizenship for Essential Workers, the rally’s theme. They save the city during the last 15 months.
At the rallly before the march to Manhattan Bridge.
Families for Freedom’s rallying cry: Keep Our Families Together.
Dedicated to improving the lives of the vulnerable and precarious immigrant workers.
New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) is dedicated toimmigrant workers in New York, —laborers, domestic workers, and newly arrived immigrants.
Immigration reform is the rally’s cry.
Immigrants kept the city running during the pandemic.
Drumming from MinKwon Center fires up the rally.
Essential Not Deportable, the sentiment of the rally.
Essential Not Deportable, the sentiment of the rally.

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