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"Mayday!" A Deportation Distress Call

Credit: Microsoft
Credit: Microsoft
May 1, 2013

NEW YORK - Immigrants and their supporters on Long Island today are using May Day to keep the focus on fixing the nation's broken immigration system.

A big reason many are expected to turn out at the march and rally, said Omar Angel Perez, director of programs for La Fuente, is to celebrate the fact that the U.S. Senate finally has a comprehensive immigration bill in the works.

Perez said they want to keep lawmakers focused on key aspects of that measure "to send a message that we want to stop the deportations to keep our families together; and worker rights protected - for everybody."

Liz O'Shaughnessy, president and program director for CoLoKi, said day laborers from the Freeport Trailer are marching in solidarity with La Fuente. The group has taken strong stands to make sure that immigration reform reaches all workers, she said, including the thousands who work as day laborers on Long Island.

"They're doing the hard jobs and they deserve as much respect and dignity as the 'tech' immigrants or the workers in the food industries and hotel industry," she said. "So, I'm really happy that they included us in the work that they are doing, bringing attention to all workers."

O'Shaughnessey says her group also is marching to show gratitude to Freeport and its new mayor, Robert Kennedy, for allowing them to operate their Trailer, which provides vital services to day laborers. The AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 32 BJ, and the Long Island Immigrant Alliance are among the groups joining the May Day action.

It's a good thing the current bill includes a path to citizenship, Perez said, although he is concerned that 13 years may be too long for many local undocumented residents to wait. The rally begins at 4 p.m. today in front of the Freeport Train Station.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY