Those were just a few of the chants that echoed around the section of the Student Center known as “Semesters” on the Central Connecticut State University campus Thursday afternoon, as approximately 50 students, faculty, community members and organizational leaders looked to raise awareness on the rights of immigrants as well as the challenges, issues and injustices they face.
“This issue is real. Human beings are being deported,” rally co-organizer Allison Martinez said. “These issues are happening. Undocumented or not, we have rights. We are not illegal.”
The rally was co-sponsored by CT Students for a Dream and the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity.
Speakers, allies and members of the Greater New Britain community and beyond spoke on issues such as current deportation cases, the lack of school aid for undocumented students, unaccompanied immigrant children and, for most, their displeasure with President Barack Obama’s administration choosing to postpone executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections.
Nadine Nieves, who leads a Hartford immigration committee, wasn’t shy about voicing her disapproval regarding the delay.
“This is a sensitive issue, especially around election time,” she said. “But I’m disappointed in Obama’s decision to put this on hold. It doesn’t seem to be on his list of priorities.” Nieves, however, praised Connecticut leadership for being out in front with some of its laws.
Connecticut was the first state to implement a TRUST Act, which was put into place to improve the relationship between the state’s immigrant communities and local law enforcement. Obama has publicly said the reason for the delay is a way for the overhaul to be “more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we’ve done on unaccompanied children, and why it’s necessary.”
For John Jairo, co-founder of New Haven-based Unidad Latina en Accion, he doesn’t regard all politicians as “bad,” but said action needs to be taken — now. “We need to be a part of the power and the movement,” he added. Mariano Cardoso, the rally’s co-organizer, said he knows first-hand the power a community can have when it comes together. He said it wasn’t long ago that he was holding a letter in his hands stating that he was to be deported. Cardoso realized his fight to stay in the country was an uphill battle, but he also knew he hadn’t done anything wrong — he had worked hard his whole life and was about to graduate from college. He reached out and found the support of several groups and organizations.
With their help, and that of the likes of Gov. Dannel Malloy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Cardoso, who lives in New Britain, has been allowed to stay in the United States. “I was heartbroken when I received that letter. It didn’t seem fair,” he said. “But now I’ve seen how much we can do when the community unites.”