By Carolina Sotola
"Here we are and if they throw us out, we arent leaving,"
shouted dozens of people marching in front of the immigration building
here in the Big Apple yesterday afternoon.
The reasons for the protest, organized by the Central American
Coalition, were key: the protesters called for the extension of
temporary protected status (which allows undocumented immigrants
from a country experiencing armed conflict or environmental disaster
to remain in the U.S. and work) for immigrants from El Salvador
and the approval of temporary protected status for Colombians.
They demanded the amendment of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central
American Relief Act, which extends asylum to certain Nicaraguans,
Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and people from former Soviet
The protesters also asked for the permanent restoration of the
immigration law called section 245 (i), which allows undocumented
immigrants to apply for a green card without leaving the U.S. They
also called for legal status for all undocumented immigrants.
"Immigrants have many problems. One of them is being separated
from their families when they come to the United States," said
Guillermo Chacón, an activist with the Salvadoran-American
Network. He explained that section 245 (i), if restored, would allow
people in the U.S. who have no immigration status to apply for green
cards through a family member or employer without leaving the country.
In 1997 Congress did not renew this section.
Organizations representing different Hispanic communities, such
as the Guatemalan Committee, Salvadorans United for Better Opportunity,
Hondurans Against AIDS and the New York Immigrant Coalition were
present to support the same cause.
"We are here so that they listen to us. We are uniting as
one voice to call for the legalization of all immigrants,"
said Carol Méndez, a student at Rutgers University. "Also,
we are demanding that undocumented students should not pay twice
as much for courses as a regular student to attend university,"
she said, referring to the Students Adjustment Act.
The march, which lasted two hours, left a clear message. "We
want to tell President Bush and the Congress of the United States
that needed, fair reforms are the most intelligent step to make
with respect to immigrants, especially after Sept. 11. They need
to give some sort of hope to the Hispanic community," said
Translated from Spanish by Erica Pearson
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