On the National Day of Action for immigration reform, Hartford joined cities across the United States as people took to the streets downtown during evening rush hour.
The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) organized the event, with rallies at both the Old State House and State Capitol, and a march in between.
CIRA is comprised of many organizations including the ACLU of CT, African American Affairs Commission, AFT Connecticut, Apostle Immigrant Services, Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Brazilian Immigrant Center, Center for Latino Progress, Comunidad Inmigrante de East Haven, Connecticut AFL-CIO, Connecticut Center for New Economy, Connecticut Coalition to Stop Indefinite Detention, Connecticut Students for a Dream, Immigration Rights Task Force of the Unitarian Society of New Haven, Immigration Task Force of New York Annual Conference of United Methodist Church, International Institute of Connecticut, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), Junta for Progressive Action, Latino Advocacy Foundation, MECha de Yale, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), New Haven Peoples Center, Oficina Católica de Justicia Social de La Arquidiócesis de Hartford, Seminarians for a Democratic Society, SEIU-32BJ, SEIU-State Council, Somos CT, Unidad Latina en Acción, UNITE HERE, and United Action Connecticut.
Students from nearby colleges and universities wore orange ribbons. At the State Capitol a group of students presented State Representatives Juan Candelaria and Gary Holder-Winfield with an immigration reform petition containing over 900 signatures from area students; these signatures were collected in two weeks.
Holder-Winfield told activists that while he is not an immigrant, he could, as an African-American, relate to the experience of feeling as if the police were not present to provide protection in his neighborhood.
“I know what it is to feel unsafe,” he said.
Because of the looming fear of deportation for lacking documentation, serious crimes often go unreported in immigrant communities.
Holder-Winfield has introduced legislation — Connecticut Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act — designed to restore trust in these communities.
Speaking of the day’s action, Yanil Teron, the Executive Director of the Center for Latino Progress, said “this is not about Latinos,” and proceeded to list all the countries and nationalities she knew were represented in the crowd.
Mayor Pedro Segarra temporarily joined the march as people passed City Hall.