Immigrant Rights Group Plans Times Square Protest for Pathway to Citizenship

Nov 1, 2021
3:06 PM

While Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) looks on, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news conference in the Queens borough of New York, Monday, February 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) is planning an 11-day protest in Times Square calling on Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) to include a pathway to citizenship in the Build Back Better Act, President Joe Biden’s social spending bill.

“Sen. Schumer happens to be the most powerful senator now but we’ve actually been working with him for years to help him meet his commitments to the immigrant community, especially the citizenship pathway that’s been promised,” said Manny Castro, executive director of NICE.

Organizers tell Latino Rebels that the Times Square protest will include frontline essential workers telling their stories, a vigil where the names of immigrants who died of COVID will be read, and culminate in an 11-mile march from Midtown Manhattan to Schumer’s home in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“Immigrants in New York feel an added responsibility to protest because this is the home of Sen. Schumer,” said Castro, who convened a leadership meeting to plan the protest that was attended by over 100 members of NICE, which advocates for day laborers, domestic workers, and newly arrived immigrants in the Empire State.

“We’ve been to D.C. five times in the last three months,” said Castro. “Last time we brought four busses full of members, undocumented immigrants. It’s not easy for them to hop on a bus and sleep outside, but we see this as a necessary escalation.”

Latino Rebels covered the march NICE helped lead from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters to the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol. Sens. Schumer, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Alex Padilla (D-CA) addressed the crowd of thousands on September 21.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), chair of the House Progressive Caucus, also addressed NICE and other immigrant rights groups at the Washington march, calling on the Senate to disregard the Parliamentarian’s guidance against including an immigrant legalization program in the Build Back Better Act.

All four Hispanic Caucus senators —Menendez, Padilla, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)— have told Latino Rebels that citizenship remains on the table in the Senate Democrats’ budget negotiations.

Conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) told Latino Rebels in October that the immigrant relief proposals led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the powerful Democratic whip and Judiciary Committee chairman, might be too big to fit into the bill.

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has already rejected two proposals led by Durbin to include immigrant relief in the budget reconciliation bill. Durbin now leads a third proposal to the Parliamentarian that stops short of citizenship but would offer some immigrants temporary protections from deportation as well as a work permit.

“A lot of people will be afraid to apply for parole especially after DACA,” said Castro, referring to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allowed qualified immigrant youth to apply for a renewable form of limited protection every three years. “We’ve seen the uncertainty of DACA

“It’s important to have a path to citizenship for long-term security. All of our members would be affected by the outcome of what’s being decided in D.C. in the next few weeks.”


Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports