Marching For Immigrants, Marching For Humanity

Gissel

By Gissel Marquez

Though I didn’t know exactly what to expect and was a bit nervous, I was also ecstatic to be a part of a pro-immigrant march that could help pave the way for undocumented immigrants to find refuge on Long Island.

We marched to the office of Congressman Peter King in Massapequa Park on Feb. 24 urging him to support and advocate for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

DACA helps those who came to the U.S. as kids without documentation secure two years of administrative relief to help them attain documentation, including a work permit.

It was heartwarming to see people from all backgrounds supporting immigrants from all over Long Island. We are a nation of immigrants, and that is what makes America great.

To my surprise, my supervisor and special projects coordinator at Long Island Wins, Laura Lemus asked me to lead the march, holding up a banner emblazoned with the words “LI Immigrants are #HERETOSTAY.” I would also stand in solidarity with Dr. Laura Anker, Director of First-Year Experience at SUNY Old Westbury.

I was shocked, nervous, and even more, excited. I was going to lead the march! What a one-of-a-kind experience!

The streets resounded with our chants of “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcomed here.”

Though less than 10 minutes, our march felt like an eternity of pure unity.

Once we arrived, speakers like Dr. Anker, Laura, Angel Reyes and Nelson Melgar, all expressed their support, concerns, knowledge, love and hope.

In the spirit of the First Amendment, there were also a handful of Trump supporters on the other side of the street, trying to diminish the rally with insults and hateful words. We knew that we were on the right side of history, so that only made us manifest with greater intensity.

I wasn’t offended, but I did feel a bit upset, with a swell of pity, since their fear derives from something we can all be terrfied of: the unknown.

But, we can fill that void of understanding by informing others about immigrants’ stories and wielding fact-based evidence, so that they too can realize that those they call “aliens” are just as human as they are.

I stood my ground and marched for my parents, family, friends, classmates and other immigrants who collaborate and contribute to our society each and every day. Though this was my first march, I know for sure it won’t be my last.

Gissel Marquez is an intern for Long Island Wins who helps us blog. She’s also a freshman at SUNY Old Westbury. She’s also a proud member of Long Island Immigrant Students Advocates (LIISA).

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