Immigration reform rally draws hundreds to Wyandanch

People of faith and community members march down People of faith and community members march down Straight Path in Wyandanch in an interfaith show of support for the passage of an immigration reform bill that would putl 11 million people on a path to citizenship. (Oct. 27, 2013) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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A coalition of religious groups and activists took to the streets in Wyandanch Sunday to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

The marchers, who stepped off at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Roman Catholic Church and stopped half a mile away at the U.S. Post Office branch in Wyandanch, carried signs that read "Stop the Deportations" and "Immigrants are all God's children."

The march, organized by Long Island Jobs With Justice, which advocates for workers and immigrants, aimed to call on Congress to pass "sensible immigration reform," according to organizers.

A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed the Senate this summer, and the group is hoping the same bill will pass the House. Talks stalled in the House during the recent partial government shutdown.

"We want justice for immigrants," said Sister Flor Buruca, of the Sisters of St. Dominic in Amityville, as she marched along Straight Path."All of our grandparents came from another country," said Sister Diane Kirwan, of the same order. "They helped make this country what it is."

After the procession, which was escorted by several police cars, the about 200 demonstrators gathered in the parking lot of the post office, a federal building, where singers sang in Spanish and speakers from several different faiths emphasized their common roots in welcoming immigrants into society.

"As a community of faith, we have a long history, going back to the Old Testament, of welcoming the stranger in our midst," said the Rev. Ken Graham of the Commack-based Presbytery of Long Island.

"We ask our leaders in Washington to engage in a serious, thoughtful and critical conversation about immigration," said David Newman of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island.

"Enough is enough. We have seen enough of our leaders in Washington avoid talking in a serious way about immigration."

"Our communities are united," said Charlene Obernauer, executive director of Long Island Jobs With Justice. "It's time for Congress to get together and pass immigration reform."

Fermin Reyes, 55, of Lindenhurst, said that the message of the day was inspiring.

"It was good," said Reyes, who worships at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. "We need a better solution as soon as possible for people who don't have papers."

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