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37 Arrested in NY as Civil Disobedience for Immigration Reform Grows

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Norman Eng,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235, 
New York City  (Monday, May 24, 2010)

37 Arrested in NY as Civil Disobedience for Immigration Reform Grows

May 24, 2010, New York City. Thirty-seven New Yorkers were arrested in front of 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan today, in a second round of civil disobedience intended to escalate pressure on President Obama and Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform in 2010.

The civil disobedience involved local clergy, labor, elected, and community leaders linking arms to form a chain that temporarily blocked traffic in front of the federal building. It was the high point of a rally attended by one hundred New Yorkers demanding immediate action on immigration reform. Speakers also urged the Obama administration to intervene to stop Arizona’s draconian SB1070 law and to place a moratorium on deportations.

U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn made a special appearance at the rally before returning to Washington, and she recommitted herself to fighting for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. Two elected officials were arrested today: Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat and City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Today’s protest was the latest in a growing wave of immigration-related civil disobedience sweeping across the nation, following recent actions in Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, New York, Tucson, Detroit, San Francisco, and Seattle. One week ago, sixteen New Yorkers, including City Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane D. Williams, were arrested for civil disobedience in a similar action outside Manhattan’s federal building. The third and final New York action is planned for next Tuesday.

The New York actions are spearheaded by Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH) in partnership with the New York Immigration Coalition, SEIU 32BJ, SEIU 1199, New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, The Black Institute, New York Communities for Change, Families for Freedom, and many others. Participants said their actions carry on the great tradition of peaceful non-violent resistance in the face of grave injustice, as practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The recent civil disobedience actions mark an escalation in tactics by reform advocates nationwide. They follow a March 21st rally in the nation’s capital that drew over 200,000, and May 1st rallies that turned out hundreds of thousands across the nation. Despite these massive showings, leaders in Washington still have failed to produce reform legislation, prolonging the moral and humanitarian crisis facing our nation over its broken immigration system.

Participants released the following joint statement concerning today’s civil disobedience action:

“Being conscientiously of opinion that our current immigration laws betray our core principles of democracy, inclusiveness and justice; that they allow for Arizona’s immoral and unconstitutional SB1070; and that their continued enforcement through detention and deportation separates families and destroys communities; we are compelled to escalate our call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the face of inaction from our nation’s elected representatives.

“Today we stand in solidarity with the millions who contribute to our communities and economy while being denied full access to them. Our act of civil disobedience is performed with the belief that our laws can—and should—be better, and that our nation’s leaders cannot stand on the sidelines as our society’s core values are betrayed by a broken and immoral immigration system.

“We invite the enforcement of the law upon ourselves in the hope that our arrest today will be the catalyst for principled leadership from the President and Congress and for meaningful Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will put an end to the arrests and other mistreatments faced by our friends, families, congregations, and communities.”

—Unity Statement Signed by Those Arrested

1. Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Chair, Churches United to Save and Heal
2. State Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat
3. City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito
4. Hector Figueroa, Secretary Treasurer, SEIU 32BJ
5. Leonor Friedlaender, Vice President, SEIU 32BJ
6. Camille Rivera, Political Director, SEIU 32BJ
7. John Delgado, Business Manager, Laborers’ Local 79
8. Bertha Lewis, President, The Black Institute
9. Rev. Gary Wiley, Trinity Grace Church
10. Mariana Boneo, Hudson Valley Community Coalition
11. Stephen Tickner, New York Faith and Justice
12. Rev. Orlando Crespo, Latino Leadership Circle
13. Frances Liu, New York Immigration Coalition
14. Rev. Claudia De La Cruz, Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas
15. Michael Graham, SEIU 32BJ
16. Jose Felipe Gonzalez, SEIU 32BJ
17. Denis Johnson, Security Division, SEIU 32BJ
18. Walter Cooper, SEIU 32BJ
19. Bianca Austin, SEIU 32BJ
20. Frank Oropesa, SEIU 32BJ
21. Rev. Cliff Frasier, SEIU
22. Carole Mayers, SEIU
23. Annabelle Heckler, SEIU 1199
24. Jesse Camoamor, SEIU 1199
25. Neal Gorfinkle, SEIU 1199
26. Leslie Gonzalez, SEIU 1199
27. Robert Kelly Edwards, SEIU 1199
28. Norman Frasier, New York Communities for Change
29. Julia Boyd, New York Communities for Change
30. George Finley, New York Communities for Change
31. Maria Maisonet, New York Communities for Change
32. Anthony Reid, Laborers’ Local 79
33. Charles Rykiewicz, Laborers’ Local 79
34. J. Todd Fernandez, Out4immigration.org
35. Katherine Diaz, Da Urban Butterflies
36. Yolanda Dumes
37. Osagyefo Sekou

Today’s event was sponsored by Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH), Families for Freedom, La Union de La Comunidad Latina, MinKwon Center for Community Action, New Agenda for Broad Immigration Reform, New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, New York Communities for Change, New York Faith and Justice, New York Immigration Coalition, New York State Immigration Reform Campaign, SEIU 1199, SEIU 32BJ, and The Black Institute.

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