Organized by the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, the rally was attended by groups ranging from the Eastern Long Island NAACP to the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk & Queens. Leaders called for a path to legalization and more assistance for detainees facing deportation.
The gathering was to support a Senate bill following legislation introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) in the House in December. The House measure would allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States while they apply to become legal residents or citizens, as long as they pay a fine and show they have contributed to the United States through work, education, military or community service.
"Senator Schumer, we are here to show you our support," shouted Andrea Callan, director of the Suffolk chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Please introduce your bill now. We have been waiting for too long."
The senator was not in his office during the rally. Schumer released a statement saying he was working hard on a bill. "The bottom line is that we need more bipartisan support to introduce a bill that can pass the Senate, and I am working hard every day with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to achieve that."
Schumer did not offer a timetable for when he would introduce the bill.
Estelle Hoyt, 82, of Seaford said she braved the brisk weather to rally in support of immigrants being allowed to "wholly participate" in the American way of life. "As long as I have the energy to protest, I will continue to do so," Hoyt said. "The idea of justice for all should be present in all of our lives."