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New Yorkers Trek to D.C. for Immigration Attention

March 19, 2010

NEW YORK, N.Y. - New Yorkers are vying for attention from President Obama and Congress on the issue of immigration reform, and they are heading to the nation's capital on foot and by the busload this weekend.

Veronica Federovsky, with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, set off on foot from Hempstead last week and walked all the way to Baltimore. Today, she continues her trek to the nation's capitol with about a half-dozen other Long Islanders, all calling for reform of the nation's immigration laws and enforcement practices.

"When you criminalize a person for just look for work, you're criminalizing a mother, or a father, or a son whose only crime is just looking for the best for their kid-that's it."

Federovsky is working with the Family Workplace Project of Long Island. She says middle class New Yorkers count on day laborers and workers for all sorts of chores, and their contribution to the economy must be recognized as part of immigration reform.

Sunday's immigration reform rally comes at a time when much of the president's focus has been on health care. Javier Gallardo, community organizer for La Fuente's Long Island Civic Participation Project, says immigration reform deserves equal attention.

"We want to show that Obama still has the support of immigrants, but he needs to show more commitment, more action. Also, Senator Schumer needs to show real leadership in order for this to happen."

Gallardo will be among the New Yorkers boarding buses departing Hempstead early Sunday morning bound for the rally - where a total of 100,000 people are expected.

"Path to citizenship, family reunification and labor protection. Those are the three most important things for immigrants and for the American Society."

Counter-demonstrations pushing for stricter enforcement at the nation's borders are also planned for the weekend.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY