Hundreds gather at Connecticut Capitol in support of immigrants
HARTFORD >> Several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol on Saturday to declare their support for the state’s immigrant community and to further denounce President Donald Trump’s immigration policies by proclaiming they’re “Here To Stay.”
Organized primarily by property service labor union 32BJ SEIU, the rally was part of a nationwide “Here To Stay,” campaign to gather immigrants and their supporters with public speakers and performances. The rally also served to recognize the state’s diversity.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1, and state Comptroller Kevin Lembo were among the attendees and speakers of Saturday’s rally, which lasted about two hours.
UConn student Eric Cruz-Lopez served as an MC for the event. Cruz-Lopez is an undocumented resident and member of CT Students for a Dream. He was critical of Trump’s immigration policies, which CNN reported on Friday has resulted in a slower deportation pace than his predecessor.
“We know that they’re trying to criminalize undocumented immigrants,” Cruz-Lopez said. “We know they’re trying to hurt our communities where they hurt us more, with our families, with our jobs, and deportations.”
Undocumented resident Hector Castañeda lives in Stamford and has been in the United States for more than 20 years after immigrating from Guatemala. On Saturday, he attended the rally after he said a friend invited him. He has plans to retire, but said he wants to try to become a permanent U.S. resident.
“I feel good,” Castañeda said in Spanish about Saturday’s turnout. “I’m an immigrant too. I’m here to support them ... I like to show support.”
There are Americans who have forgotten where their people came from, Malloy said, including people whose families fled Europe before arriving in the United States.
“There are many Americans who forgot that their people were discriminated against based on their religion, or their speech, or their ethnicity in some other country,” Malloy said. “We Americans will remember those things. And we Americans will fight for our brother’s and sisters across this world and in this nation.”
Malloy said Americans have an “obligation” to stand up for the less fortunate and take care of their “fair share of refugees.”
After thanking the union for helping organize the rally, Blumenthal said he had a memo for Trump.
“This is what democracy looks like,” Blumenthal said, before saying in Spanish: “The right’s of immigrants are human rights.”
The current administration has “no respect for the rule of law,” Blumenthal said, adding courts and the press have helped uncover “Russian meddling” in the country’s election and possible connections between Trump’s associate and Russia. He also spoke in support of a Derby resident who is being asked to leave the country after a stay of removal was denied.
“We have a lot more to fear from that law-breaking than we have to fear from any immigrant in this country now or ever,” Blumenthal said.
Wyman said the event was important and thanked the event’s organizers.
“We all have to be at rallies, we all have to be out there speaking,” Wyman said. “We’re here to stay,” Wyman added. “Trump, you can go.”
Reach Esteban L. Hernandez at 203-680-9901