ELIZABETH, NJ – Dozens of Latinos, immigrants, and Muslim leaders gathered tonight, Jan.12, in front of the Snyder Academy on Broad Street, at a rally and march down Elizabeth Avenue, organized by Make the Road New Jersey.
“With the Inauguration a week away, we are coming together to stand up against the next presidential administration’s policies of hate, division, and scape goating of Muslim and immigrant communities,” explained Sara Cullinane, executive director of Make the Road New Jersey. “We are standing together and calling on our elected officials to take steps to protect immigrants and other vulnerable communities and to pledge not to cooperate with the administration’s unconstitutional attacks.”
The rally attracted participants of all ages, such as Edriel Cardoza, a junior at Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Academy, and Mara Molina, a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. Both American citizens, who stood outside Snyder’s fence holding signs and ready to march, were there in support of their friends and family members.
“I have so many friends that are denied the opportunity to go to a good college,” said Cardoza. “They want to strive and help the community. They get stopped because they can’t afford college and can’t get financial aid, so they have to settle for jobs at McDonald’s instead of more aspiring jobs that help the community.”
Added Molina, “I have family members who are immigrants. I want to help them because I see how much they fought for me and my family.”
In the crowd were two elected leaders with strong ties to the immigrant community, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Freeholder Vice Chair Sergio Granados.
“This year, it is important we unite as a community,” said Quijano, addressing the crowd. “Our heads, our hearts, and our feet are here as a community.”
She continued, “My grandfather came here in the 50’s looking for the American Dream. It shouldn’t matter if you are male or female, if shouldn’t matter what your religion is. It is important we are not divided by hate. We have to make sure as working families that we vote our values. I am here with you. I am an immigrant just like you. In Union County, there are a lot of people who stand with us.”
Sergio Granados stood listening alongside Marline Edmond, chair of the Haitian Flag Day Planning Committee. “It is important to know that this country was built upon immigrants. I want a strong message to all the opposition that together we stand, divide we fall. We have to work at better processes to find ways to work together on solutions the benefit everyone.” NJ