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Hundreds rally on May Day to demand worker protections

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Hundreds of immigrant workers and elected officials rallied on Sunday to demand a path to citizenship and worker protections.

“New York State must also step up to deliver relief to our excluded workers who continue to toil without the safety nets afforded to the rest of us,” Murad Awawdeh, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said at a May Day rally. “Now, it’s time for President Biden and Governor Hochul to deliver the relief and safety our families need and deserve.”

May Day, also known as International Workers Day, unites union and non-union workers across the country every May 1 to bring attention to workers’ rights. This year, advocates once again called on Congress to pass permanent protections for millions of undocumented immigrants.

Workers had the support on Sunday of prominent New York City politicians, including Comptroller Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. 

The march began at Washington Square Park, where protesters from various immigrant organizations gathered, and ended at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan.

Make the Road New York, an organization with over 25,000 members that helps immigrant and working-class New Yorkers, said that during the pandemic immigrants were the essential workers who risked their lives to keep the country running but continue to be excluded from state programs and a pathway to citizenship. 

“Undocumented essential workers are part of the backbone of this country and economy, and many put their lives on the line during the pandemic. Yet, they remain excluded from a path to citizenship and full protections,” said Yaritza Mendez, co-director of organizing at Make the Road New York. 

The organization said a pathway to citizenship is vital for immigrants who are vulnerable to abusive working conditions and live in fear of being separated from their loved ones.

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