‘No hate; no fear: Immigrants are welcome here.’ Pro-migrant rally held on Staten Island

‘No hate; no fear: Immigrants are welcome here.’ Pro-migrant rally held on Staten Island

Editorial credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

By Scott R. Axelrod, Staten Island Advance

Sep. 19—STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Several dozen people from Staten Island and other boroughs gathered in Port Richmond Monday evening for a pro-migrant rally, standing in direct contrast to multiple anti-migrant housing protests held over the last several weeks outside the former St. John’s Villa Academy in Arrochar.

The event was co-sponsored by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Democratic Socialists of America, Peace Action Committee, Workers World Party and El Centro.

The gathering took place at the intersection of Willowbrook Road and Port Richmond Avenue as attendees held up bright yellow signs reading “Housing is a Human Right,” “Full Rights for all Immigrants,” and “Wall Street is the Enemy, Not Immigrants.”

Rally organizer Omnia Hegazy, from the Party For Socialism and Liberation, led the crowd in chants of: “The rain don’t stop the struggle” and “No hate, no fear: Immigrants are welcome here.”

“Our main focus has been to contribute and be able to help the newcomers not only integrate into our community of Staten Island, but also to help them become financially independent,” said Michelle Molina, executive director of El Centro del Inmigrante.

“Our nation has always been a tapestry woven in the threads of countless immigrants bringing diverse talent, skills and aspirations to the fabric of our great nation,” Molina said. “Today we have an opportunity to continue this legacy by welcoming those in need of refuge.”

Abou Sy Diakhate, co-chair of the Staten Island Immigrant Council, said he felt morally obligated to be at the event and that as an African immigrant himself, he doesn’t refer to the migrants as asylum seekers, but sees them as newcomers.

Monday night’s gathering comes several weeks after several protests and a lawsuit to shut down the migrant site at St. John’s Villa in Arrochar, since the city announced that it would be the latest in a long line of shelters opened throughout the five boroughs.

On Staten Island, emergency shelters have been set up at several hotels and inside the former Richard H. Hungerford School on Tompkins Avenue in Clifton.

Other sites around the Island have been rumored as potential migrant shelters, including a Midland Beach assisted living facility and Fort Wadsworth, and both plans have been met with outcry and protests from locals and elected officials.

“There is a lot of fear mongering going on, so let’s make it clear,” Hegazy said. “A person who is granted asylum is protected from deportation to their home country, is authorized to work in the United States and can apply for a Social Security number.”

“If (the migrants) have made it as far as Staten Island it means that they have a secured asylum or are in the process of trying to qualify,” Hegazy added.

Mayor Eric Adams and members of his administration have identified the new arrivals as “asylum seekers” throughout the crisis.

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