Cries for change echoed from Beinecke Plaza to the New Haven Green Tuesday as hundreds rallied across New Haven for comprehensive immigration reform.
Yale students began rallying at approximately 5 p.m. in Beinecke Plaza, where students shared personal stories before heading over to the New Haven Green. Signs in hand, the group of about 50 students met hundreds of New Haven residents at the Green carrying signs with messages such as “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated” while chanting “Ahora! Ahora!”
The group walked the perimeter of the New Haven Green and ended at a stage next to City Hall where Mayor John DeStefano Jr., State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield and representatives from various political offices throughout New Haven gave speeches on the importance of immigration reform. Those marching consider themselves to be part of a movement for comprehensive immigration reform across the country that is working toward goals such as offering undocumented residents a path to citizenship. The larger movement also included Tuesday rallies in Danbury and Bridgeport.
“The system now is broken and demonizes a lot of people,” said Christofer Rodelo, the political action chair of the Yale hispanic advocacy organization MEChA. “There needs to be a more humanizing effort.”
Protesters cried for a host of changes to the United States immigration system, which was criticized for not respecting human rights. Many spoke for the need to prevent families from being torn apart and to allow undocumented workers to obtain driver’s licenses.
Students interviewed said the rally eliminated distinctions between the Yale community, the immigrant community and the New Haven community. Juan Carlos Cerda ’15, who was undocumented until last year, said that being undocumented at Yale “was not the most pleasant experience.”
Katherine Aragon, the moderator of MEChA, explained the connection between Yale students and the immigrant community.
“Yale is here today. We are standing with New Haven and with immigrants,” Aragon said. “This is not the first time we have rallied and it’s not the last time we will rally.”
MEChA was not the only student activist group at the rally. Representatives from many cultural groups that support political activism were present. Nia Holston ’14, the political action chair for the Black Student Alliance at Yale spoke of the need for African Americans and Hispanics to stand together to push for immigration reform in order to promote human rights.
“The first wave of illegal immigrants in this country came in 1492,” said Sebastian Medina-Tayac, the events coordinator of the Association of Native Americans at Yale.
Today there will be a march for immigration reform in Washington, D.C.