By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W contributor
About 500 people, many of them immigrants, rallied today at Madison Square Park in Manhattan to call on the federal government to reform the immigration system and legalize the status of about 12 million undocumented workers currently living in the United States. The march was the first of two to be held this afternoon in New York, with another one starting later in Union Square.
The turnout fell significantly short of the projections of organizers who were expecting to draw at least 1,000 people. The rain and the tough economic situation seem to have affected people’s plans.
“This is the year when we need more people out because we need to remind President Obama that he has to keep the promise and pass immigration reform this year, but the economic situation makes it very difficult for people to miss a day of work,” said Luis Olavarria, 38, an undocumented Mexican worker who took a few minutes during his lunch break from a nearby restaurant to attend the rally.
Make the Road New York, one of the 25 organizations that participated in the demonstration, achieved its own goal of bringing two buses with over 100 of its members from Queens and Brooklyn to the demonstration site.
“I think this is great, there is a lot of hope and energy here today,” said Javier Cuenca, a 33-year-old undocumented Argentinean immigrant. Cuenca had spent the day yesterday preparing for the rally. At the demonstration he joined his friend Juan Diego Castro in clanking a pot and shouting slogans in Spanish, such as “No human being is illegal” and “We are here to stay.”