By Tequila Minsky
On April 20, immigrant activists will march from Grand Army Plaza over the Brooklyn Bridge to Times Square in a “Days of Outrage” demonstration, pushing back against this government’s brutal policies toward immigrants — particularly from Africa, Haiti and Latin America.
Demanding permanent residency for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals holders, and the stopping of racial profiling in immigration enforcement, the “April 20 Coalition” brings together immigrant organizations from the African, Haitian, and Latin American communities.
TPS for El Salvadorans terminates Sept. 9, 2018, affecting more than 200,000, and for Haitians, TPS terminates in July 22, 2019, affecting about 60, 000. The Washington Post reported that nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants have taken advantage of the deferred deportation program President Barack Obama created in 2012.
At the announcement of the demonstration at City Hall last week, Margaret Tropnas recalled marching with other Haitians over the Brooklyn Bridge, “I remember when were on the bridge, it shook,” she said. “The magnitude of that march was incredible.”
Twenty-eight years ago on April 20, the Brooklyn Bridge trembled under the feet of 100,000 marchers protesting the Center for Disease Control (CDC) designation that Haitians, were high-risk for HIV and as a nationality could not give blood—with others that came to be known as the 4-Hs along with homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and heroin addicts. As a result of this remarkable demonstration, CDC removed that designation the following year.
“This is a reminder of what can be done with unity,” Tropnas said.
Gerard Cadet, V.P. 1199 SEIU United Heath Care Workers East, spoke at the press conference. “Since the 2017 coronation of that number 45 (referring to the president), we have experienced a time that reflects all the bad memories of the past…. We are talking about the events leading to the holocaust in Germany, from 1933 until 1945.”
He went on to list previous erosion of civil rights, atrocities, and moral evils perpetrated in the United States: slavery, Japanese internment camps, Bull Connors (Alabama politician opposed to civil rights movement), reconstruction (after the civil war), the rise of KKK, and McCarthyism (use of false accusations).
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte also draws strength from that historic protest, “We are coming together as a community with DACA and TPS no longer being renewed — not just Haitians but Latinos, the Black immigrant community and all those affected by this administration.” She said how these are tax payers who add value to the United States and that “this administration wants to rip them apart.”
“We’re tired of hearing insulting comments against people from countries of color,” she added. “We’re marching over the Brooklyn Bridge to let the world know that we’re going to continue to fight and demand immigration reform.”
Always speaking out for human rights, Public Advocate Leticia James emphasized, “We must denounce those who preach hate, including the president of the United States. We have to say it loud that all immigrants are welcome in this country.”
Organizers hope that all immigrant rights activists along with the Haitian community will support with their feet another epic march assembling from 8-9 am on April 20, 2018 — this time protesting the removal of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and the non-renewal of DACA.