JERSEY CITY, N.J. – More than 5,000 strong they stood on April 10 proclaiming their legality, demanding their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “No human being is illegal,” they raised their voices in unison. “We are all Americans, from North America, Central America, South America, from Asia and Africa.”
These proclamations and more were shouted across the waters of New York Bay from Liberty State Park. They reached liberty’s statue standing just off shore on her pedestal bathed in sunshine and casting her golden glow on to the demonstrators.
“We work hard; we pay our taxes; we raise families; we are not criminals; we are not felons. We want to be citizens,” they said, as though in answer to the call across the water – “Give me your tired, your worn, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”
The speakers were many. Their words eloquent in their simplicity, honesty and heartfelt anguish. Perhaps an eleven-year-old girl best captured the totality of emotion and human expression as she captured the very hearts of the demonstrators who responded to her remarks as one. Alexandra Noriega said: “I’m eleven years old. I was born here. My father is from Costa Rica and has no papers. I am an American but I am also proud of my culture. No human being is illegal,” she declared.
That sentiment, the overriding theme of the demonstration was echoed by speakers from the trade unions, people’s organizations and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)
On April 10, Lady Liberty could truly be heard saying, “I light my lamp beside the golden door” for the millions already here and yet to come.