Immigration and minority advocates, union members and officials came together in Brooklyn Saturday for the March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
It may have seemed like a celebration of culture, but a gathering in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn and march across the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday was a movement calling on the government to pass immigration reform.
"We have been waiting for a while with a promise, and our community is tired, and they are eager to be part of this country and to attain status and have a pathway to citizenship," said Jessica Garcia, senior organizer with New Immigrant Community Empowerment.
"Eleven million Americans who happen not to be documented, they deserve a chance, too," said Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. "Eleven million people who make this country work."
The thousands who gathered for the March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect represented a microcosm of what the country looks like today: people of many different races and statuses, living and working in America, yet scared that their families will be ripped apart.
"Deportations haven't stopped. We continue to deport hundreds of people every day," said Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. "Detention centers making money off of our taxpayer dollars to detain our families."
"They have to live in this gray part of society and they're never really allowed to fully participate, even though they have their kids here, the family's here, they're building community here," said supporter Emma Yorra. "They are Americans in every sense of the word."
The group, joined by perhaps millions of others at about 200 similar rallies across the country, said it's time to make the American dream a reality for the many immigrants living here, and they won't let anything stop the fight, even a government shutdown.
"It's overdue," said one supporter. "We want to have the Congress, particularly this small group of Republicans, to break the logjam and pass this law. The Senate has done its job, so it's up to the Republicans, some of the folks in the House."
They hope that their voices raised in unison will force the government to listen, but if not, they'll continue their effort.
Another rally is scheduled for October 8 in Washington.