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32BJ, New Yorkers rally against deportation system

Stephon Johnson | 3/16/2017, 1:01 p.m.
Activists, clergymen, elected officials and labors leaders have continued vocal opposition to President Donald Trump. Most recently, these groups gathered ...
32BJ takes on the RNC and DNC

Activists, clergymen, elected officials and labors leaders have continued vocal opposition to President Donald Trump. Most recently, these groups gathered outside of 26 Federal Plaza to show solidarity with immigrants who’ve been adversely affected by the current deportation system.

At 26 Federal Plaza, numerous individuals attend immigration court hearings and check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The protesters led a Jericho Walk (an interfaith act of solidarity in which people silently walk around the building and engage in prayer).

Héctor Figueroa, president of Local 32BJ SEIU, said the current behavior of the Trump administration isn’t indicative of a nation of immigrants.

“As the largest union in the country representing immigrants, we are here today and every day to defend our neighbors, co-workers and loved ones from the arbitrary and cruel implementation of immigration policies that hurt our communities, hurt our country and debase our values,” said Figueroa in a statement. “Inhumane detentions of hard-working young people, mothers and fathers like José Coyote Pérez, an outspoken activist on the fight for $15, do nothing to make our country better, but instead tear families apart and sow fear in our communities.”

The event was co-sponsored by organizations and unions such as 32BJ SEIU, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Immigration Coalition, the Legal Aid Society, the Immigrant Defence Project and Make the Road New York. Some of the elected officials who attended the rally were New York City Council members Jumaane Williams, Ydanis Rodriguez and Daniel Dromm, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“We do this to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who must enter this building every day with the fear that they will be torn away from their families,” stated the Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz.

James Hong, interim executive director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, said that he stood in solidarity with immigrant families and objected to them being treated as if they aren’t human.

“The practices of mandatory check-ins and incarcerating immigrants while they await a determination of their status is inhumane, and detrimental to their families,” stated Hong. “When an innocent child is put in jail, and a helpless mother is separated from her children, our values and dignity as human beings are challenged. We demand justice and an end to these detentions.”

Leaders of 32BJ have criticized Trump’s travel ban from the beginning. When the new ban resurfaced leaving out Iraq, it didn’t change the union’s stance.

“Trump’s cosmetic tweaks to the Muslim ban don’t change the fact that banning immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, and blocking entry of asylum-seekers, are horrendous ideas that run counter to our identity as a nation and our core values as Americans,” stated Figueroa last week. “Most Americans know that immigrants are not just an essential part of our communities; immigrants are what define America. We are a nation of values, founded on an idea—that all men and women are created equal. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all people have rights, no matter what they look like or where they came from.”