Javier Cuenca (in red) and another activist during preparations for today’s May Day immigration rally. (Photos: Maibe Gonzalez)
About a dozen documented and undocumented immigrants showed up yesterday at the Queens, NY office of community organization Make The Road New York, where they painted signs, packed food and coordinated transportation. Some also prepped to speak at one of today’s May Day rallies in Manhattan.
A prominent immigrant advocacy organization, Make the Road is one of about 60 community, faith and labor groups that are expected to participate in two major demonstrations for immigration reform this afternoon, as part of a national action day that includes demonstrations in a number of cities. (Feet in Two Worlds will have reports on rallies throughout the day.)
One of the volunteers was Javier Oscar Cuenca, a 33-year-old, football-player type Argentinean who recently moved from New Jersey to Queens.
Cuenca has been in the United States for eight years after overstaying a tourist visa and has sustained himself by painting houses. He’s been unemployed for the last four months, but is hopeful that under President Barack Obama reforms will be enacted that help him obtain legal status, work, and attend college. Despite being undocumented, Cuenca said he didn’t mind being identified in this story.
“I’m doing this because I have faith the reform will pass,” Cuenca said. “I’m 80 percent confident it will pass.”
Speaking of immigration reform at his White House news conference on Wednesday, President Obama reiterated his desire to “move this process.” But the president also indicated that strengthening the U.S.-Mexico border is a pre-condition.
If the American people don’t feel like you can secure the borders, then it’s hard to strike a deal that would get people out of the shadows and on a pathway to citizenship who are already here, because the attitude of the average American is going to be, well, you’re just going to have hundreds of thousands of more coming in each year.