Tag: New York

Immigration NewsVideos

FI2W Video: New York March for Worker and Immigrant Rights in Union Square

A second pro-immigration reform rally took place in New York in Union Square on Friday. While attendance was sparse in the early afternoon, more activist groups had arrived by the time speeches and performances begun at 4 pm, amid chants of “Sí, se puede” (“Yes, we can”.)

Rain came soon and forced protesters to duck under blue tarps or even their own banners and picket signs. Many did not leave. “Although the rally filled the plaza on the south end of the park, the attendance was nowhere near the numbers we saw in 2006 or even last year,” reports Feet in 2 Worlds senior producer Jocelyn Gonzales, who created the video below.

Read about the other march for immigration reform that took place in New York on Friday.

BrooklynImmigration NewsLatino

High Expectations, Low Turn Out at New York Immigration Rally

By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W contributor
May Day rally at Madison Square Park in Manhattan.

May Day rally at Madison Square Park in Manhattan. (Photos: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes)

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.

Ecuadorian ... and Argentinean Javier Cuenca

Ecuadorian Juan Diego Castro and Argentinean Javier Cuenca at the rally.

“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.”


Immigration NewsNew YorkQueens

Immigrant New Yorkers March Today for Immigration Reform

Javier Cuenca (in red) and another activist during preparations for today's May Day immigration rally - Photo: Maibe Gonzalez.

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.


CommentaryImmigration News

Lessons from Binghamton (and Maybe a Ray of Hope for Immigrants): News Analysis from FI2W

The tragedy that unfolded on Friday in an English class for immigrants at the American Civic Association in Binghamton, N.Y., was horrifying and brutal. But along with the shock and sadness there is also an opportunity to see where we are as a nation, where we have come from, and where we may be going next in our long immigration history.

Mourners at a service for immigrant victims of the Binghamton massacre. (Photo: The New York Times)

Mourners at a service for immigrant victims of the Binghamton massacre. (Photo: The New York Times)

Binghamton is in mourning. On Sunday night 1,500 people gathered at a middle school in the small city in upstate New York to remember the victims of the massacre in which 14 people died, most of them immigrants. Local TV reports showed prayers being offered in several different languages, and a diverse crowd of mourners, standing together, holding candles outside the school on a cool April evening. More memorials are planned for later this week.

The victims came from around the world — Pakistan, Haiti, China, Brazil, the Philippines, Iraq, and the U.S. The gunman, 41-year-old Jiverly A. Wong, was Vietnamese.

We now know that Binghamton is a mirror of the nation. The city’s immigrant and refugee population –small compared to that of metropolises like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles– has grown in size and significance over the past 20 years. The mix of cultures, languages and religions represented by the victims of Friday’s tragedy can be found in any number of small cities and towns across the country from Siler City, N.C. to New Haven, Conn. to Manchester, N.H.


BrooklynImmigration NewsLatino

Alleged Killers of Ecuadorian Immigrant Indicted: Could Face Up To 78 Years In Prison

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Keith Phoenix - Photo: AP.

Keith Phoenix. (Photo: AP)

The men accused of killing Jose Sucuzhañay, the Ecuadorian immigrant beaten to death with a bottle and a baseball bat on a Brooklyn street last December, have been indicted under charges of murder as a hate crime and could face up to 78 years in prison.

Keith Phoenix, 28, and Hakim Scott, 25, were charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault, all of them as hate crimes.

On Dec. 7, Phoenix and Scott allegedly attacked Sucuzhañay and his brother Romel shouting anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs as the brothers walked home, hugging each other, after a party.

“The acts which we charge this morning are no less despicable because the victims Jose and Romel Sucuzhañay were not gay,” Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes said in announcing the indictments, according to The New York Times.

The December attack was the second against Ecuadoreans in the New York area in less than a month, after Marcelo Lucero was beaten to death by a group of high-school students in Patchogue, Long Island. Those arrested in that killing now stand charged with a rampage of attacks against Latinos in the area.


Immigration NewsLatinoLos AngelesNew York

From Coast To Coast, Latino Small Business Owners At Risk

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

In New York and Los Angeles, the effects of the economic slowdown are hitting hard in one important sector of immigrant communities: small business owners.

Daily News.

Ramon Murphy in his Red Apple Grocery in Manhattan. (Photo: Daily News)

A fixture of many New York neighborhoods, the bodega, is fast disappearing from many corners. The president of the Bodega Association of the United States claims that “every day, two or three bodegas close in New York.” High rents and leases that force them into rent hikes are their main enemy.

In L.A., vendors at the Grand Central Market — many of them Latino — are facing a similar situation. Business is down, way down, and they can’t meet rent payments.

A vendor at the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles.

A vendor at the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles. (Photo: La Opinión)

A survey done by the USA Latin Chambers of Commerce said rent hikes and increasing operational costs threatens to put 61% of New York City bodegas out of business, according to a recent article in El Diario/La Prensa.

One example is Luis Sánchez, a bodeguero on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan who says his rent goes up 7% every year. He started paying $2,940 a month three years ago and now his rent is at $3,400 — he’s even had to fire his own brother recently. (more…)


New Yorker Spreads Latino News For The Northeast, One E-Mail At a Time

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNEWz.org
Michael Fondacaro and his wife, over Noticias y Notas

Michael Fondacaro and his wife, over Noticias y Notas. (Photo: Courtesy Fondacaro/EthnicNEWz.org)

There’s no question: Web sites and blogs are a part of American life for sharing information.

For Latinos in New England and New York, Michael Fondacaro is bringing news-sharing to another level. The former National Public Radio reporter in Albany, NY, compiles news about their communities, which he distributes weekly by e-mail.

The idea started in 2000 as a directory about Latino groups for New York state Senator Olga A. Mendez. Back then, Fondacaro worked in communications for Democrats in the New York Senate. Around the same time, he also was e-mailing 200 friends electronic links to stories about Latinos communities in cities like Pittsfield, Mass., and Hartford, Conn.

Soon enough, he thought, why not check out Vermont and its Latino festival?

In July of 2004, Noticias y Notas (“News and Notes”) was born, which now reaches 1,150 community leaders and ethnic journalists all over New York and New England, according to Fondacaro.



New Attack On Hispanic Immigrants In New York Is Again Felt In Ecuador

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

For the second time in less than a month, an Ecuadorean immigrant was savagely attacked in New York by men shouting anti-Hispanic slurs. Once again, as with the death a month ago of Marcelo Lucero, the pain was felt among Hispanics in the United States and in faraway South America. The attack that left José Sucuzhañay brain-dead seems to confirm the rise in hate crimes pro-immigration advocates have been warning about since Lucero’s passing.

Daily News

José Sucuzhañay – Photo: Daily News

José and his brother Romel Sucuzhañay were attacked on a Brooklyn street last weekend by three men who allegedly shouted anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs while beating them with a bottle and a baseball bat. The brothers had been walking with their arms around each other.

José, 31, was declared brain-dead Tuesday at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, although his family was keeping him on life support until his parents and two children arrived from Ecuador.

“Today my brother is the victim, but tomorrow it could be your brother, your mother, your father,” another sibling, Diego Sucuzhañay, said Tuesday at a press conference outside the hospital.

According to the New York Daily News,

Diego said he had been talking with his parents in Ecuador by phone, telling them Jose “was okay.” But, he said, now “it’s time to tell them the truth.”

Thousands of miles away, Mercedes Quintuña, the Sucuzhañays’ mother, also spoke to the press.


Immigration NewsQueens

Morning in Harlem: Voices of Immigrant and First-Time Voters in New York

Through Election Day, Feet in 2 Worlds reporter Aswini Anburajan interviewed voters from very different origins. She talked to a Polish first-time voter in Harlem, and then she interviewed two Bangladeshi men and an Argentinean woman in Jackson Heights, Queens. She even had time to make an appearance on PRI’s nationally syndicated show The World.

In the morning, Anburajan talked to Keith Shaka Daway, an immigrant voter from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Daway saw an eventual Obama victory as “a vindication” of his ancestors and the “freedom fighters” of the past. You can read more about him here and you can listen to him speaking on this audio clip:


Another interviewee was Carl Duck, an African American man in his fifties who voted today for the first time in his life. “It’s time to make a change,” he told Anburajan. You can listen to him on this clip:


Tamar Owens and her daughter Oprie, 7, were at the same polling place. “Its exciting to vote for a person that’s real. That’s real by heart by soul,” the mother said of Barack Obama. The kid, as you can hear on this audio interview, was also very enthusiastic:

BrooklynImmigration NewsPolish

Election Fever in Greenpoint: Polish Immigrants Form Long Lines to Vote

GREENPOINT, NY – Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter

A long line of voters crowded around P.S. 34 on Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, a predominantly Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn. The line was at times so long –in the morning at any given moment there were around 300 voters– that some people just gave up, saying they would have to come back later. Others were hoping that their employers would understand and would not punish them for coming late to work.

“I’ve never seen anything like that here,” said Krystyna Holowacz, a Greenpoint activist, while waiting for her turn to vote. “Usually it takes five to ten minutes to cast a vote in Greenpoint. Today it’s more than one hour.”

Some voters were very excited to take part in this historic election, others looked very serious and described their participation as a duty.

Older Polish immigrants stood in line among numerous young Americans who have recently moved to this increasingly trendy neighborhood. And while election fever has strongly held the country in its grip for a long time, among Polish residents of Greenpoint this was a new phenomenon.

In the past, Polish immigrants, while deeply involved in their home country’s politics, were barely interested in the American electoral process. This year, however, despite differences in their opinions on who should be the next president, Poles were showing up at polling sites in much larger numbers than in previous years, with a new feeling of empowerment.

FI2W reporter Aswini Anburajan interviewed Polish voter Darius Gieczeweski in Manhattan. He voted for the first time in a U.S. presidential election this morning.