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.
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
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
Students from the Chinese mainland are subject to security
checks after they travel to China, which last half a year to a
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