From City of Brotherly Love: We are America

A sea of signs and flags filled Philadelphia’s Love Park to overflowing as thousands of people of diverse nationalities gathered to call for an end to the threat of punitive anti-immigrant legislation by Congress. Demonstrators came from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania carrying signs in a range of languages, but with a common message: “No Human Being Is Illegal” and “We Are America.” Mexican workers from three states and residents from African countries and the Caribbean joined 1,000 residents of the city’s Chinatown and others to hear Mexican mariachi bands and Korean drummers. The long list of speakers included the city’s managing director, Pedro Ramos, who represented Mayor John Street and spoke in both Spanish and English, telling the crowd, “This is a city that welcomes immigrants and the contributions of immigrants. We are very concerned about the debate going on in Washington right now.”

Helen Gym of Asian Americans United told the crowd, “Citizenship is not a piece of paper. It is in our hearts, hands, backs and dreams. We demand a place at the table!” She went on to relate the story of Mrs. Jiang Zhen Xing, a mother of two who had resided in the city for 11 years and was pregnant with twins. When Mrs. Jiang reported to the local immigration office as instructed she was taken into custody on the spot, separated from her children and husband and driven to New York’s JFK airport for immediate deportation. Despite her protests and appeals, she was denied medical care and left without attention for hours. She was finally taken to a hospital where it was discovered she had miscarried her unborn twins. The case has caused widespread outrage in the Chinese community and across the city.

Following the rally, Yvette Spence, an organizer for SEIU District 36, which represents 90,000 workers from New York to Virginia, told the World, “Many of our members are immigrants, and we are concerned that families have the right to stay together and make their lives in this country together.”

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