Less than a month before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, New Yorkers, including elected officials, community organizations and civil rights advocacy groups, marched from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations to Trump Tower on the International Migrants Day Dec. 18, to support New York’s immigrants and to protect them from the anti-immigrant policies repeatedly spoken about by Trump during his campaign.
Thousands of New Yorkers came out on the streets on the International Migrants Day to attend the “March for Immigrant New York”, organized by the New York Immigration Coalition and sponsored by 85 organizations, including Chhaya CDC and Desis Rising Up & Moving, the Interfaith Center of New York, the LGBTQI community and women’s rights, and anti-violence groups.
The protesters sought to send the message of resilience and hope directly to the president-elect. As the march made its way up 5th avenue, hundreds of bystanders and passersby joined it, pledging to protect “Immigrant New York.”
At a rally before the march, Steven Choi, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition said, the coalition has four simple demands for the president-elect – defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides 50,000 New Yorkers work permits and other essential resources; protect immigrant communities from deportation; prevent the creation of a Muslim registry, and support critical refugee resettlement programs. “This is what we are marching for at the “March for Immigrant New York” today and we call on all New Yorkers to join us in our pledge to protect our neighbors, family members, and friends,” Choi said.
New York City elected officials, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, State Senator-elect Marisol Alcantara, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simone, Assembly Member-elect Carmen De La Rosa and Council Members Carlos Menchaca and Ydanis Rodriguez joined the rally, pledging their support for New York’s immigrants, many of whom feel tremendous fear and uncertainty.
“New York is and always will be a sanctuary city,” said Speaker Mark-Viverito. “On International Migrants Day, I am proud to stand in solidarity with New Yorkers from across the five boroughs to send a clear message that together, we will continue to stand up and fight for our immigrant communities.”
Public Advocate James had a similar message. “New York City will always stand behind our immigrants. With the recent spike in acts of hate against immigrant populations, it is more critical than ever to defend the rights of our immigrant brothers and sisters and affirm their vital place in our City. As New Yorkers, we will never waiver on our core values and principles and we will never allow anyone to normalize hate,’ James said.
Before marching, DACA recipients, members of the Muslim community, and immigrants at risk of deportation, faith leaders, and allies spoke, sharing their stories, and calling on New Yorkers regardless of immigration status to stand together.
“We refuse to sit silently by as President-elect Trump and his cabinet threatens our families, our neighbors, our friends. This rally and the march is just the first step on a long road to demonstrate to Trump and his new administration that New York immigrant communities are here to stay and that all New Yorkers will united to protect one another,” Choi said.