Sunset stands united for immigrant rights.
Following the news that President Donald Trump plans to put an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program founded by former President Barack Obama whereby young, undocumented immigrants brought here as children are protected from deportation and are eligible for a work permit, Sunset Parkers gathered outside St. Michael’s Church, 352 42nd Street, on Tuesday, September 5 to stand together and demand action.
Following mass, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca joined faith leaders, community service organizations, advocates and local residents to provide information about DACA, what the news means for immigrants and how to respond.
“It’s going to be a struggle and it’s going to be hard,” Menchaca contended. “It’s going to force us all to do things that we might not have done before. That is the power we need to ignite in this community.”
The councilmember also added that unity is one path for real change.
“We must continue to unite, no matter what crisis is ahead of us, whether it’s a natural crisis or a crisis manufactured by racism, xenophobia and hate. That is what we are fighting for today,” he said. “Whatever belief you may have, love is the only thing that can conquer this so that is the word of the moment right now. That is how we are going to respond to our immigrant brothers and sisters and families. Sunset Park does that better than anyone else and with all its heart. I’m proud to be a Mexican immigrant and proud to be who you are.”
Other attendees voiced their concerns, many holding signs that read “Unity and Action” and “#DefendDACA,” and at least one wore a shirt that read “I stand with immigrants.”
“The announcement ending DACA is immoral, cowardly and bad public policy,” attendee and Chair of Education for Community Board 7 Cesar Zuniga told this paper. “Our community is devastated and we will take a few days to feel the pain, the anger and the fear; and then we will channel that energy to help us organize and strategize to pressure our national leaders to once and for all bring permanent relief to our undocumented children and family.
“I’m confident that Sunset Park will play a prominent role in defending and supporting our undocumented families,” he went on. “We have demonstrated this commitment and this challenge renews our commitment to continue to do so.”
Zuniga was impressed by the turnout and Sunset Park spirit. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he added. “The sense of community and unity is really special. It’s worth noting that the day the violence broke out in Charlottesville, in Sunset Park we held a Know Your Rights dinner. We welcomed and lifted the voices of our undocumented families; that’s what we do in Sunset. I’m super proud of this community.”