‘A day without immigrants’ protesters rally at Love Park to demand reform on Valentine’s Day

Activist Ivonne Pinto marches as demonstrators made their way around Philadelphia City Hall. The rally, A Day Without Immigrants, started at Love Park and worked its way around City Hall to the Municipal Services Building where people spoke  on Monday, February 14, 2022. Many are frustrated with President Joe Biden’s failure to fulfill his promises to immigrants.

‘A day without immigrants’ protesters rally at Love Park to demand reform on Valentine’s Day


Immigrants in the Philadelphia area joined the nationwide “Day Without Immigrants” protests Monday without jobs, schools, or consumer purchases to demonstrate their vital role in society and their response to the lack of systemic federal reforms. Disappointed.

About 50 people — families with children, supporters and leaders of advocacy groups — rallied in Central City’s LOVE Park on a freezing 20-degree noon, marched to City Hall, and then shared a call to action at the Municipal Services Building. About Two dozen people participated in a second demonstration outside the Upper Darby municipal building.

“I’m not buying anything today,” said Analine Ceron, 30, who immigrated to Philadelphia from Mexico and attended the LOVE Park rally. “The message was for the administration, Biden. He promised immigration reform. Nothing happened.”

Protests are planned in front of the White House and in at least 15 cities calling for reforms, notably for President Joe Biden to keep his promise to open up a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the United States.

Organizers are marking the event as one of the biggest sales holidays of the year, with consumers expected to spend $239 on Valentine’s Day cards, candy, dinner, jewelry and gifts, according to the National Retail Federation, a Washington-based trade association. billion, and data firm Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Valentine’s Day is close to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Easter Day in terms of overall spending.

“Our community pays millions of dollars in sales every day,” said Maria Serna, an organizer of the Philadelphia rally. “We deserve the same love they show other families.”

She dispelled the cold and led the procession to the Octavius ​​Catto monument on the south side of City Hall and then to the Harriet Tubman statue on the north side, linking immigrant rights demands to the fight for fairness and equality facing African Americans.

“Liberation, liberty, the will to live, that’s what we black and brown people strive for every day,” NEAR’s Melissa Robbins said as the crowd stopped in front of the second statue speak to them. “Our fight is against white supremacy. That’s our fight.”

A person holds a sign that says “No more broken hearts​​​. Immigration policy reform!” A red sign decorated with white hearts reads the message “Immigration Reform Now”.

According to the U.S. Immigration Council, U.S. immigrant-dominated households had about $1.3 trillion in spending power in 2019, defined as collective after-tax income. They paid about $331 billion in federal taxes and $162 billion in state and local taxes.

Undocumented households paid about $19 billion in federal taxes and nearly $12 billion in state and local taxes that year, the commission said.

But while undocumented immigrants contribute to the state treasury, they are excluded from government safety nets such as unemployment benefits. They were barred from federal stimulus money, a lifeline for many American families, during the worst public health crisis in a century.

Regular national “A Day Without Immigrants” rallies, including rallies in Philadelphia in 2006 and 2017. Some of those who attended the event on Monday recalled attending earlier events as children, noting that years later, the promise of immigration reform remains unfulfilled.

Today, 14 percent of Philadelphia’s 1.6 million residents are immigrants, according to census data. They fueled the city’s population growth after a half-century of decline and spurred the creation of new businesses before the pandemic swept the globe.

A 2018 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the city’s foreign-born population rose 69 percent from 2000 to 2016, to more than 232,000. Approximately 390,000 residents are immigrants or have immigrant parents.

The pandemic has exposed America’s reliance on immigrant workers, which is essential in everything from food supplies to health care. Many nurses, doctors and medical technicians who grew up in the United States are still providing first-line treatment to patients under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

On Valentine’s Day, some immigrant-run businesses intend to close their doors on the day to demonstrate the importance of their labor, goods and services. Others plan to stay open, saying two years of pandemic losses make it impossible to refuse receipts and workers lose wages.

“We support this rally, but like businesses, we have to be open,” said Juan Carlos Romero, who runs Philly tacos and leads the Mexican Business Association, which represents businesses in South Philadelphia, including those in the Italian market. enterprise. “We have to work.”

He attended the rally on Monday and is a strong supporter of immigration reform.

A Day Without Immigrants aims to drive change with all immigrants, young and old, new and established, documented and undocumented. A year into Biden’s inauguration, many grassroots groups and advocates have become very frustrated with the administration’s failure to turn its promises into reality.

For example, a narrower version of the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy, which bars asylum seekers from entering the United States while waiting for a date in immigration court, continues to operate. Biden’s plan to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants has made no progress, and to make matters worse, advocates say, he appears to have stopped pushing for it.

“Most people in the Pennsylvania immigrant rights movement feel that the Biden administration has failed us,” said Andy Kang, executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition. “We haven’t seen the White House commit to a different vision of immigration than one based on locking people up.”

Kang said that even if Biden is legislatively blocked from implementing his goals, much could be done through executive orders and policy changes.

He noted that the Government continued to implement so-called Article 42. Trump and now Biden have banned and deported thousands of asylum seekers on the grounds of protecting public health despite assurances from experts that people can be handled safely.

“People’s trust in this political system is eroding,” said Desi Burnette, the statewide coordinator for the immigrant group MILPA, who was one of the parents who kept their children out of school on Monday. “It is frustrating and angry that neither party can ensure the safety, dignity, respect and well-being of immigrant families.”

Stringent immigration policies have kept undocumented numbers relatively stable, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. Immigrants cannot leave and return easily, so they stay, often incurring the human cost of separating families.

Advocates point out that undocumented individuals are taxpayers, neighbors, friends and colleagues. About 1.6 million people are married to U.S. citizens and another 675,000 are married to lawful permanent residents, according to the Washington Immigration Policy Institute.

There are approximately 50,000 undocumented individuals in Philadelphia.

Rally organizer Serna praised her fellow protesters for standing up for change, especially during the freezing cold and the holidays.

“It’s a time of love,” she said. “The question is whether America’s 11 million immigrants deserve the same love as everyone else.”

Sharing is caring 👋 don’t forget to share this post on Twitter !

Like it? Share with your friends!