December 11, 2013

Immigration Rally Draws a Crowd

(click for larger version)
By Kitty Merrill

Over 250 advocates and immigrants, activists and community members, parents and children braved a dreary, cold Sunday afternoon to rally for immigration reform. The knoll at Lola Prentiss Park in Southampton Village was nearly covered with demonstrators carrying placards in English and Spanish chanting 'Si se puede,' (Yes, we can).

The Hampton Bays-based advocacy organization East End Immigrant Advocates sponsored the rally, which featured a variety of speakers from similarly-focused social justice groups, such as Lucius Ware, president of the East End chapter of the NAACP.

Showing support for the bipartisan immigration reform measures co-sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer and Senator John McCain was the goal of the outing. Demonstrators hoped to urge House Speaker John Boehner to allow the legislation to be brought up for a vote.

Some carried signs to that effect. One speaker referenced the holiday season, reporting her letter to Santa would ask for immigration relief. She'd also ask God to touch the hearts of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., "especially John Boehner."

Bills before the House and Senate both include a lengthy, 13-year path to citizenship for adults, and an expedited path for immigrants who were brought here as children. Sister Mary Beth Moore, founder of EEIA pictured above, pointed out that 71 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.

The gathering was large, and sparked by occasional chanting, but remained peaceful and marked by a warmth and convivial atmosphere that belied the unfriendly temperatures.

Concurrently a small counter rally was held across Windmill Lane. Five demonstrators carried signs offering a contrasting point of view, calling for "no amnesty" for undocumented immigrants.


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