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Utica Group Rallies In Favor Of Immigration Reform

Alex Wong, Getty Images

Even in the pouring rain, a small group of people in Utica showed their support for nationwide immigration reform.

The group, which totaled 17 at its high point, stood at the corner of Genesee and Parkway, holding signs demanding Congress to enact humane laws for immigrants.

Diane Berry, who organized the event, says current issues in the law are unpopular and exclusive in nature.

“They’re good citizens and good workers, but they are undocumented,” Berry said. “It’s just created a huge unworkability in our families and our communities. Families are being torn apart. Kids are being lost from their parents in foster care, their parents are being sent back.”

Berry says people should not be excluded for minor crimes or pay expensive fines to earn their status. She also said in Central New York, farmers are reliant on the work immigrants do in terms of agriculture.

“They really need a steady stream of documented workers that don’t have to be afraid of immigration enforcement,” Berry said. “They don’t have to be afraid of reporting crime and they don’t have to be afraid of unscrupulous employers.”

Charlie Grossman was another protestor at Wednesday’s event. He says everyone deserves a fair shot at a good future.

“Most of us are either immigrants or our parents were immigrants,” Grossman said. “The whole concept of immigration reform is very important to people who have gone through the process.”

The group said immigrants should be attainable, both through the cost of applying for citizenship and by issuing an entrance date that includes most people.

Berry said unity also plays a large role when accepting new people, as immediate family members should be allowed to join their families if they are making the attempt to become citizens.

But, it was one story Berry told that she says should be seen as a benchmark for why reform needs to happen.

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Grossman agreed, saying that reform laws could be hammered out quickly, but only if people work together and put their differences aside.

“I know there are divisions regarding immigration reform, but their differences are a lot smaller now than they used to be,” Grossman said. “I feel pretty good about it. I think it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.”

Others must feel the same way, as similar protests were held nationwide on Wednesday as part of Immigration Day.

Utica’s event was sponsored by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Mohawk Valley Latino Association, among others.

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