By Imani Wj Wright
Original Publish, 2021
On April 28, as President Joe Biden approached his first 100 days in office, United We Dream (UWD) and their allies marched in Washington, D.C. to demand the Commander in Chief and Democrats to create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.
“United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 800,000 members, over 100 local groups and a reach of over 5 million per month. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States,” according to a statement from United We Stand.
The UWD march on April 28 began at Farragut Square and completed on 15th and Constitution Avenue N.W. At the very front of the protest waved a red, white, and blue banner which displayed the words: “BIDEN. STOP DEPORTING OUR PEOPLE.” Chants such as “No justice! No peace!” and “I’m undocumented!” echoed through the streets. Signs held high by marchers read statements like: “DEMOCRATS, WE CAN’T WAIT,” and “BIDEN DELIVER CITIZENSHIP NOW.”
“After nearly 35 years of inaction on immigration from both Republicans and Democrats, now is the time for President Biden to set our country on a transformative path forward by stopping detentions and deportations, and providing a broad pathway to citizenship for millions of people,” UWD wrote in a statement. “President Biden and Democrats can and must pass citizenship for millions this year. No excuses!”
“Today is important because we’re marking the conclusion of Biden’s first 100 days in office by calling attention to two things. One, the continued deportation and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, mostly black and brown people have been deported and expelled under his administration. And secondly, the urgent need for a pathway to citizenship for millions of people,” said National Communications Manager for United We Dream Jose Muñoz.
“This is a moment for president Biden to turn all of his words into actions. So, we’re calling on Biden and Democrats to move without Republicans, who have only been obstructionists on this issue, to really provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants. We are demanding a bold and transformative immigration policy that helps people without hurting people,” Muñoz emphasized as marchers literally laid in the street on Constitution Avenue.
“Today’s event highlights a group of immigrants and those who are friends to immigrants, showcasing our voice and our powers as Americans… I hope today’s event sends a message to Biden and to those in congress that the immigrant community in the United States is strong and is not leaving any time soon, and deserves rights just like any other American,” Nick Asante, a community organizer for UWD told the AFRO.
Avery Smedley, a community organizer and activist in the DMV area, also weighed in on the importance of the march.
“It’s ridiculous that Biden is not holding true to his promises. We elected Biden because we wanted to do better, especially in the middle of a pandemic. It’s ridiculous. We can’t be deporting people in the middle of a pandemic,” Smedley asserted. “I hope that he listens to all of the demands from today. I hope he listens.”
Lauren Payne, a community activist in Montgomery County and president of Young People for Progress also noted that immigrants, particularly Black ones, are left out of important policy conversations.
“This is impacting so many immigrants, especially Black immigrants, that are often left out of this conversation. So, I’m here today to stand with them and to fight with them,” Payne told the AFRO. “I think events like these need to keep happening. People say ‘Biden just got elected, it’s not enough time.’ But, this man signed several executive orders within his first three days of presidency. He should be moving fast on these issues such as immigration, this should be one of his top priorities– especially thinking about the amount of Black people and immigrants that voted for Biden, especially in the Hispanic community, this should be one of his top priorities, and it’s not looking like that, so this needs to happen ASAP.”
For more information on United We Dream, visit: https://unitedwedream.org/