On March 11, about 100 people met at St. Clare’s Church in Great Kills, Staten Island, to push immigration reform with the help of City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.
A diverse group of Staten Islanders met at the forum to organize an immigration reform march on April 10 in Washington, D.C. Some of the attendees gave personal accounts of their experiences with actual and threatened deportation. According to the Staten Island Advance, an estimated 17 million U.S. families have a member who is an undocumented worker.
“By passing the New York State Dream Act and allowing undocumented immigrant students, who satisfy certain conditions, to be eligible for state tuition-assistance and educational opportunity programs, New York State can show leadership on immigration,” said Quinn, who sent a representative to the forum. “In doing so, thousands of future doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and teachers throughout New York will be able to access higher education and contribute to our city and state.”
New York has played a critical role in progressive legislation in the past, and Representative Senator Charles Schumer is one of the eight members of the bi-partisan group crafting an immigration proposal.
Officials in Staten Island’s neighbor, Long Island, are also calling for comprehensive immigration reform to help boost their economy and keep families together. Joe Gergela of the Long Island Farm Bureau told New York CBS affiliate WCBS 880 that 60 percent of Long Island’s agricultural industry may be made up of undocumented workers, which is between 7,000 and 8,000 people. Without this workforce, farmers would not have a large enough work supply to harvest crops. Gergela told the news station that the industry depends on a foreign workforce.