“We are here to send a message,” said Teresa Arieth, organizer of the La Fuente Jackson Heights march.
The goal, she said, was to notify congress that there is support for immigration reform.
“There is a lot of family separation,” she said, “We’ve already been waiting a long time.”
According to La Fuente, there are many illegal immigrants working in the Jackson Heights neighborhood and stimulating the economy. It was chosen as a march site, one of several across the five boroughs last week, because “it reflects the diversity” immigration reform affects.
During the march from 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue to 103rd Street and Corona Avenue, the group passed many stores that were run by immigrants who were in favor of passing immigration reform legislation.
“They’re working and they’re paying taxes, too,” Arieth said.
One individual who marched in support of immigration reform was a sophomore studying graphic design at a city university. He spoke on the condition of anonymity due to his status as an illegal immigrant.
While he is in favor of immigration reform on the national scale, this El Salvadorian immigrant said that he is seeking help from the state as well.
“We want to be able to work without fear,” he said.
The Brooklyn resident said that he is also in favor of the DREAM Act introduced at the state level designed to allow students the same financial aid for college as citizens, as long as they can prove they were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.
“We want to grow in the community,” Arieth said, “We want to work more and pay taxes. We bring a culture here to the community. “It’s a benefit for everyone.”
Along with the marches, Senator Charles Schumer discussed immigration reform in Downtown Brooklyn at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James on Jay Street and Cathedral Place.
In churches throughout Brooklyn and Queens - 194 parishes in all - mass is said in roughly 30 different languages.
“I am working with my bipartisan allies putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will bring 11 million people out of the shadows and onto the path to citizenship,” Schumer said. “With your help, and your prayers, I hope that we will succeed in passing this vital legislation.”