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Daily Newscasts

Rally Aims to Change Tone of Debate on Immigrant Day

February 25, 2008

Albany, NY — Tone it down, please! That will be the call during today's annual Immigrant Day of Action in Albany. They come from diverse upbringings, members of the Chinese, Russian, Latino and Caribbean communities, but Norman Eng with the New York Immigration Coalition says they're all rallying for the same cause. Eng would like to see a change in tone from last year's raucous driver's license debate.

"We heard some very, very ugly rhetoric and untruthful rhetoric about immigrants in the state, and we want to remind people and urge our lawmakers to take the responsibility that they have to foster a respectful dialogue."

At noon, as many as 1,000 immigrants and advocates will march from the Hart Theater to the State Capitol for a rally on the East steps, asking legislators to invest in citizenship and immigration services. Eng believes that change in tone is needed to allow lawmakers to find common ground on big issues that affect, not only the state's diverse immigrant communities, but the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

"It's helping more kids graduate from high school and helping more immigrants become citizens, making sure that more people have access to quality, affordable healthcare. These are all concerns shared not only by immigrants, but by all New Yorkers, and we're here to advocate for the common interests that all New Yorkers have."

According to Eng, the Empire State has a major stake in getting the debate over immigration policy right, because one in five New Yorkers is an immigrant, and the immigrant population makes a significant contribution to the state's economy. He also cites a lack of affordable legal services as a concern, to help immigrants negotiate a confusing and expensive path to citizenship.

Michael Clifford/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NY