Hundreds rallied Saturday outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Manhattan to call on President Barack Obama to expand protections to undocumented immigrants. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
With their voices raised in unison in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building, one group stood with others across the country in a national day of action to say 2 million, the record number of deportations that the Obama administration is set to soon hit, is too many.
"Their family loses their contributions, and also, they're just separated from their children," said Nadia Marin-Molina, workers' rights coordinator at the National Day Laborers Organizing Network. "Sometimes, the children are born here in the United States. They lose their father, their mother."
They want the president to stop what they say is a dehumanizing process by expanding immigrant protections of the Deferred Action Program created in 2012.
Currently, it grants people who came to America as children and meet certain guidelines the opportunity to live and work here for two years while they are becoming citizens.
"Expand it to include everyone," Marin-Molina said. "So rather than just limiting it to a small group who came when they were children, he could expand that for everybody who would qualify, for example, under one of the federal pieces of legislation."
While immigration reform is an issue often thought exclusive to the Latino community, the group said they came out Saturday to show it affects everyone, like Ravi Ragvir, who spent two years in immigration detention and is currently fighting deportation to Trinidad and Tobago.
"When I was in Alabama, which housed about 250 to 300 immigrants, over 57 countries were represented in that small space," Ragvir said.
Ragvir was one of many at the rally who is not Hispanic. Members of the human rights group Adhikaar, which represents the Nepali-speaking community, stood with those of Pakistani decent and other nationalities.
"We are here to show our solidarity because we are the, we are from Asia and Nepali-speaking, which just means Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Tibet," said Namrata Pradahn, a member of Adhikaar.
Together, they say enough is enough and are demanding federal immigration laws change.