In March 2017, an immigrant rights forum took place at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights. Inspired by the speakers and motivated to respond to the question “where should we go from here,” we realized that our neighborhood, as diverse as it is, was in need of a group that could mobilize people to resist the attack on immigrants. We aimed to coalesce with immigrant rights organizations and immigrant-led advocacy groups that existed, and to educate, petition, and stand up to our government’s intimidation and harassment of those seeking a better life in the United States.
We began by leafleting in Jackson Heights about the rights of immigrants accosted by ICE. We sought to educate people on the difference between official and phony search warrants and visited local businesses to let them know we were a resource if they or their employees were being harassed by anti-immigrant racists or ICE.
In October 2017, we held our first forum, which coincided with the case of Riaz Talukder. Mr. Talukder was a 36-year resident of the United States worried about his October check-in with ICE. Eleven Bangladeshi men had just been deported. We mobilized people to attend his hearing the following day. When ICE told him to return the next month with a one-way ticket to Bangladesh, we began an all-out effort to gather support and prevent his deportation. Through strategic meetings, petitions, and leafleting, we raised awareness for his case. In the end, Mr. Talukder was granted a six-month stay of deportation and returned home to his family. Since that time, he has reopened his asylum case and remains at home with his family with no more regularly scheduled check-ins.
We welcome new members and the unique talents you can bring to making our guiding premise reality—that no human being is illegal. Together we can make a difference.