An Interview With "Freedom Ride" Organizer
From Hoy
September 19, 2003

By Igor Gonzalez

The president of the Central Labor Council of New York, Brian McLaughlin, visited Hoy in order to share his point of view in regards to an upcoming pro-immigrant event, the ‘Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride.’ The Freedom Ride is a nation-wide mobilization that seeks to garner respect for the rights of immigrants. The main New York event will take place on Saturday October 4th at Flushing-Meadows Park in Queens. This event will be the culmination of a large caravan that is currently visiting major cities throughout the country.

What is the principal goal of the caravan?
We are fighting to obtain legal status for immigrants that allows a path to citizenship, for a right to family reunification, for work-place protection for immigrants, for a reduced waiting period for the application of family members and to protect civil liberties.

Some leaders are criticizing the event for not demanding an out-right amnesty and because that could become a platform issue for politicians…..
The word ‘amnesty’ always causes fear in a lot of people. We prefer this type of mobilization rather than asking for a general amnesty. I am offended that some politicians go around speaking Spanish but have nothing to back that up with. The most important thing is to see what will happen after October 4th.

What is the motivation to put together an event like this?
Immigrant workers are a vital part of our economy and society. Millions of families are paying taxes, contributing to our communities. They have dreams for their children and concerns for their own safety. This is a moral compromise with those workers who sacrifice themselves contributing to the U.S. economy. The ‘Freedom Ride’ is inspired by the civil rights movements lead by the African-American community in the sixties. Many communities are getting ready for what they think will be a ‘historic day.’ Richard Cecere, the president of Community Board # 3 of Jackson Heights said that: “Our community is very involved in this event because it will take place in our own neighborhood; families and other residents are very enthusiastic.”

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Translated from Spanish by Valeria Treves

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