Page 7

April 14, 2006

immigration reform

Thousands rally in WinstonSalem for immigration rights RALLY, from page 1

April 10. As in other cities, many involved wore white shirts meant as a symbol of their peaceful intentions. The events were part of the National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice, aimed at opposing strict immigration enforcement legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December and encouraging more comprehensive bills that would not criminalize illegal immigrants and those who provide services to them. Organizers also support legislation that would make it possible for the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants to legalize their status. “Nationally, Saturday, April 10 was designated as a day to pray, to fast and to demonstrate that immigrants are willing to do work and want to be legalized so they can come out of the shadows while they contribute to the economy of the United States,” said Sandra Hoyle, a parishioner of Holy Cross Church in Kernersville. “These people want it known that they do pay taxes and obey laws,” she said. “They also want to send their children to schools of higher education.” Martin Mata, director of the parish’s Hispanic ministry, helped in the demonstration’s planning. “It was also in response to the Catholic campaign for justice and reform and to the U.S. bishops’ call for justice for immigrants,” said Mata. “It comes from the roots of the people — to practice what Jesus told us to do — to welcome the immigrants.” Amid a sea of American flags and a smattering of Mexican flags were posters that read, “We are not criminals,” “We are all immigrants here,” “I am only a kid, what have I done?” and “Plymouth

Rock, landing of the first undocumented immigrants.” There were calls for unity and solidarity among all peoples. The keynote speaker was Juan Hernandez, an American who grew up in Mexico and served as special advisor to Mexican President Vicente Fox on immigration issues. Hernandez fought to end border violence and helped establish programs of the U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Prosperity to improve Mexico’s poorest regions. “The giant has awoken,” said Hernandez of the crowd. “And it’s a friendly giant; it’s a giant that loves the United States.” Hernandez asked those gathered if they are willing to learn English, to which they replied, “Si, se puede” (“Yes, we are able”). He asked if they were willing to pay taxes. Again, in unison, the reply was, “Yes, we are able” When asked if they were willing to become U.S. citizens, they overwhelmingly replied, “Yes, we are able.” Billy Hunt, a member of the Tuscarolo Native American tribe who resides in Brown Summit, said he came to support the immigrants. “If anybody has a right to be here, I see them (as having that right) as much as anyone else,” he said. “Puerto Rican, Mexican or whatever other nation they come from, they have a right to be here.” Mark Atkinson, an immigration lawyer in Winston-Salem, said the rally’s purpose was to show support for a comprehensive immigration reform that secures the nation’s borders and creates a path for legalization for immigrants currently in the country. Many Hispanics in the past, he said, have stayed quiet during immigration debates, working hard at jobs that offer little rest. “Now is the time to no longer be quiet,” Atkinson said to the crowd.

Carmen Dugarte, a native of Venezuela and parishioner of Holy Family Church, attended the rally to support her fellow immigrants. “We want to be free in this country,” she said. “We want our voices to be heard in the government because they are working for the United States. We want our children to go to college, to have health insurance, to build businesses here.” Enedino Aquino, Hispanic ministry coordinator for the Greensboro Vicariate,

The Catholic News & Herald 7

also came to support the immigrants. “We are here because we believe in the Gospel of Jesus, where it says man has dignity, which is a gift from God,” he said. “This country needs to respect our dignity, because we are not criminals, we are human beings.” “And if we remain unified, we have a voice,” he said. Contributing to this story was Catholic News Service.

Photos by Deacon Gerald Potkay

People wearing white shirts and waving American flags take part in a pro-immigration rally in WinstonSalem April 10. An estimated 3,000 people took part in the rally.

April 14, 2006  

Catholic News Herald - Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina. The official newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte...

April 14, 2006  

Catholic News Herald - Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina. The official newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte...