An interfaith coalition of more than 150 held a pilgrimage to Rep. Peter King’s district office in Massapequa Park on Sunday, one of a series of demonstrations recently held at the congressman’s office urging him to stand up for young immigrants by throwing his support behind a clean Dream Act.
The rally was organized by advocacy group Long Island Jobs with Justice. Its executive director, Anita Halasz, emphasized that a pilgrimage is typically performed to “represent your beliefs and your values and your morality.”
Halasz added that the advocates marched for a mile, starting at the Grace Episcopal Church in Massapequa. Though King was not at his office, they presented 750 signed letters urging him to support a “clean Dream Act” free of additional border security add-ons.
King later told Newsday that he supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and would support whatever bill actually makes it through Congress after negotiations.
“If they’re in this country and they came in as a Dreamer and they have clean records, they should be allowed to stay,” King told Newsday. “I just want to make sure there are no law enforcement loopholes in there.”
However, Halasz stressed that King must support a clean Dream Act to be considered an ally and supporter of immigrants.
“Until then, we’re going to keep wanting to talk to you, we’re going to keep showing up outside of your office to make sure that this bill is not being tied to any increased enforcement and that it doesn’t end up turning into some kind of legislation that will just enhance the terror that immigrant communities are facing and tear apart more families,” Halasz said.
Speaking at the rally, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, Lawrence Provenzano, brought up the question of why a bishop and why the religious community is standing up for undocumented immigrants.
“It is so basic to our religious tradition to care for those who are most in danger, those who are most in need,” Provenzano told the crowd.
Religious leaders and advocates are set to meet with King next week to physically present the letters and continue to urge him to support the Dreamers.