Chinese Rallied at Freedom Ride
From The World Journal
October 5, 2003

“Mom, I’ve been waiting for 10 years. When will I join you in the United States?” “Bush, keep your words. Don’t let immigrants wait for too long!” Those were among the signs held by members of Chinese immigrant groups in New York while they rallied during the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens on Oct. 4. They demanded the government end the immigrant visa backlog.

Attending the rally were about 2,000 individuals and members of nearly 10 groups, including Local 23-25 of Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), Asian Americans for Equality, Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc. and Asian-American Anti-Violence Association. Their primary concerns included the granting of immigrant visas and safeguarding workers’ rights. More than 20 representatives of the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale University had also come from Connecticut to express their dissatisfaction with the stringent policies towards student visas.

It has been extremely difficult for people to apply for any kind of immigrant visas since Sept. 11, 2001, said Lana Cheung, Education Director of Local 23-25 of UNITE. She said Chinese immigrants will have to wait for at least 10 years before their families in China obtain permission to join them in the United States, and that many families have suffered the sorrowful separation with their loved ones.

Students from the Chinese mainland are subject to security checks after they travel to China, which last half a year to a year, said Wan Qian, President of the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale University. Some students have never returned to the United States. Others have canceled their trips to China or even plans to attend their fathers’ funerals, for fear of being declined a visa.

The naturalization of immigrants was another concern of the protestors. Many Chinese immigrants are not documented but belong to the working class, said Margaret Chin, Deputy Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality. They have created the economic prosperity of the United States through their hard work and deserve a formal mechanism of naturalization, she said.

Pending Congress’s approval are two legislative proposals concerning illegal immigrants. One allows for undocumented farmers to apply for Green Cards. The other proposes that illegal immigrants’ children who were less than 16 years old when they came to the United States and have lived in the country for more than five years be allowed to become permanent residents.

City Council member John Liu from Flushing was also present at the rally. May Ying Chen, Vice President of UNITE said immigrants of any ethnicity have become “new Americans” since they came to the United States, and that they should unite in their efforts to call for the mainstream’s attention.

“Voting is strength,” Ellen Young, District Administrator of John Liu’s office, told the congregation. She then spoke in Chinese, “If we want to obtain what we deserve as equals, we must unite in voting and show our strength to the social mainstream.” Hearing words in a language familiar to them, the crow shouted, “We want unity!” “We want rights we deserve!” in Chinese, while holding high their signs.

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Translated from Chinese by Shasha Dai

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