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NY May Day Immigrant Rally - Keep Families Together

May 1, 2007


Immigrant families in New York are rallying on May Day to draw attention to the way immigration laws can tear families apart. Immigrants will carry a family tree to symbolize how immigration policy and recent raids in Albany and on Long Island have separated parents from children, and spouses from one another. Rick Johnson with Lake Research Partners says many Americans don't see the human impact of immigration laws.

“They don't understand that families have been separated, and they certainly don't understand what it takes to try to get a family member into the United States legally, what a huge challenge it is, and how long those delays are.”

Advocates say it's crucial to get lawmakers to act on reform now, before the heat of the presidential campaign. Today's May Day Rally begins with an interfaith prayer service and rally at Washington Square Park in Manhattan.

Javier Valdez with the New York Immigration Coalition says immigrants will be writing messages about how their families have been uprooted and pinning those on a symbolic tree.

“It's a way for people to write down on the leaves the names of individuals, family members, or loved ones that have been affected by the immigration law. It can be a story of deportation, a story of legalization to commemorate those people that have come before us, or are separated from us, at this moment.”

Johnson believes voters see the nation's immigration policy as a rudderless ship, and the latest poll numbers find 75 percent of registered voters want comprehensive reform.

“We just heard it across all different segments of folks, by race, by geography, by gender; that people are just starved for real, thoughtful reform.”

Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group conducted the poll mid-April for the National Immigration Forum in Washington, DC. Polling data is available online at www.immigrationforum.org/Documents/PressRoom/PublicOpinion/2007/Forum-MIPoll0407.pdf.

Michael Clifford/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NY