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Photo via New York Communities for Change Twitter
Photo via New York Communities for Change Twitter
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon joined immigrants marching in Sunset Park on Cinco de Mayo.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo and fighting against current immigration policies, Sunset Park residents of all ethnicities joined Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and organizations such as New York Communities for Change (NYCC) to walk the streets of the neighborhood on Saturday, May 5.

Myriam Hernandez of NYCC, a community-based membership organization committed to organizing low and moderate-income families in New York’s lowest-income neighborhoods, explained the importance of hosting such an event.

“We just listened to the problems that the community has and they shared with us that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is around Sunset Park,” she said. “So they’re very scared. Kids are scared that they’ll be separated from their parents if they just take their kids to the park. This immigration issue has completely changed life for them. We are told ICE is just looking for those who have criminal records. But that’s not the true situation. I feel they’re just looking for brown or black color.”

For Menchaca, the day was important both to celebrate his heritage and protect the rights of all immigrants.

“I joined them because they’re my neighbors organizing around issues that I believe in and lifting up their voices on a special day for me and Mexican community members,” he explained. “It’s really about reconnecting to our commitment to fighting against injustice. As small as we are as a group of people, we have power and that’s what Saturday was all about.”

The walk was both comforting and fiery, according to Menchaca and Hernandez.

“It was defiant,” said Menchaca. “We want to defy the hate that’s coming down from Washington, call out backers of hate here in New York. The president hads just removed TPS officially for Honduran families in the city and country so this is about solidarity for all immigrants being affected right now,” he said.

“It was great because the people who marched feel like they have the support of the politicians and they are not alone and could live a normal life and be together with the community and unite,” added Hernandez. “I’m happy people came out and let them know they’re here and not scared.”

People with roots in many countries attended, adding to the importance of the day.

“Ecuadorians, Chinese people, Mexicans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans were there talking about their issues,” Menchaca said, adding that he’s supporting Nixon because she has their backs. “The political arms of these groups are supporting her because she’s lifting everyone’s story up as we look to government for change, for response, for action. And that’s what we need more and more. The inability of government to respond right now is incredibly dangerous for families living in fear in our neighborhood and that’s why we’re out and proud.”

According to NYCC’s Twitter account, during the rally, Nixon said, “President Donald Trump has specifically gone after Mexicans. We need to fight back and protect immigrant families from his attacks.”

She also said, “We should remember what Cinco de Mayo is about. It’s about when Mexican peasants and farmers stood up to the French and drove them out!”

“I’m proud to stand with @cmenchaca, @MakeTheRoadAct and @nychange in Sunset Park to fight for New York’s immigrant communities on #CincoDeMayo. We must protect immigrants from ICE harassment and Donald Trump’s racist administration,” Nixon tweeted.

The sizable group started in Sunset Park, marched down Fifth Avenue, came back up Fourth Avenue and ended up back at the park.

“We made noise and we got a lot of support from folks,” Menchaca said. “There are a lot of folks in the neighborhood that work on Saturday and they saw us on their way to work. They couldn’t be there, but they knew we were out there for them and we’re speaking for them in an immigrant working family neighborhood. We’re out there for everybody.”

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