The White Plains Examiner

Hundreds Rally for Immigration Reform in White Plains

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April 16 White Plains Immigration Rally PixThey chanted. They danced. They cheered. They sang. They played musical instruments.

However the several hundred residents from Westchester and Putnam counties expressed themselves in downtown White Plains on April 10 they had one clear message: an overhaul of the federal immigration system was needed now.

April 10 was a national day of demonstrations in favor of immigration reform that took place in 18 states and Washington DC. The events came as several media reports stated a bi-partisan group of eight US senators were close to an immigration reform agreement which would include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The festive crowd in White Plains included representatives of several community groups and unions, as well as several elected officials. The demonstrators chanted such slogans as “We have a dream,” “We’ve got the power,” “Are the dreamers in the house?” and “The time is now brothers and sisters” in English and Spanish.

Congress and President Barrack Obama needed “to pass common sense immigration reform,” said John Santos, vice president and director of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union.

Santos said immigration reform “must include a realistic, attainable roadmap to citizenship.”

“Last year’s presidential election was a game-changer. It produced a mandate for reform with immigration as a mobilizing issue,” Santos said.

White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach said he was optimistic that “we can really make it happen” in terms of passing federal immigration reform.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” Roach said. “We are built on immigration. My grandfather left his farm in the middle of Ireland when he was 20-years-old.” Because of his grandfather’s move to the United States, “I’m here today,” Roach said. “An earned path to citizenship is essential to the future of our country.”

The Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader Peter Harckham shared a similar experience as the one discussed by Roach. “Like so many of you, three of my four grandparents were immigrants, came to this nation without a nickel,” Harckham said. “All three of them became proud union members.”

Immigrants bring much that is positive to America, Harckham said. “This is about inclusion. It’s about diversity,” he said. “We need the intellectual capital. We need the cultural capital. We need the financial capital. We need immigration reform.”

Harckham said he and his Democratic colleagues on the board of legislators believe those who gathered in White Plains are “the driving force” behind immigration reform.

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