The Birth of a New Generation of Activists

News & Politics

New York, April 10 -- The energy was high, the streets were blocked and immigrant rights supporters were draped in flags. The recent immigration rally at City Hall was an intergenerational show of support of the right of people to secure a future in America. And similar to the rest of the country, unusually high numbers of teens -- immigrant and nonimmigrant -- came out to show their support for a humane immigration reform. Three young reporters from Children's PressLine were on hand to ask young participants what motivated them to come out.

Newton Brungart, 12
Florida Keys

Immigrants -- they're just regular people. They are just like everybody else; they're nice. My family is from Germany. We're immigrants, but we've just been here longer.

Freddy Martinez, 12

I think immigrants deserve to stay here and have permanent residence like all the other people. The law that Congress is trying to make to deport them back to where they came from should be taken away. My parents are immigrants and if they don't have residence by the time [the immigration debate] is over then they're going to be sent back, and I won't because I was born here and they weren't. Illegal immigrants shouldn't be treated like criminals. They just came here to get a better life, and instead of being treated like normal people they're being treated like criminals without doing anything wrong.

Tay Jones, 17

I think that everything should be changed. I think that if immigrants are here, they should stay here. It shouldn't matter. They don't bother me why do we have to send them home?

Laurie Callaway, 18

I'm going to marry [an undocumented immigrant] from Mexico. The United States-Mexico border has the biggest economic disparity in the entire world. You can make five times more in America than you can make in Mexico, and that's why the border is so perforated, because people cannot live on what they make. Because most of the people in Mexico are of the lower class, even though they have socialized medicine, socialized education, your class determines how you have access to it. And the lower the class, the less access to it, so when you're a 14-year-old kid whose father has just died and the mother has no support, you will emigrate because you want to eat and you want your parents to eat.

AJ Venkac, 18

I think us as the workers should pledge solidarity with the immigrants and let them know that they're workers as well. We're all the same. We're workers. They're workers. So why should they be divided from us? Why should they be called immigrants and us called citizens? We're all workers. So pledge solidarity and overthrow the people that say they're different from us. I don't agree with either of the bills Congress is debating because they equally exploit the workers. So no matter what bill passes, it's going to be the same exploitation. A lot of the reasons why they come here is because their lives in their countries are really bad, and American corporations exploit their countries. Immigrants make a hard choice when they decide to come here illegally. Life in their own countries is worse because we made it worse, because American corporations and capitalism has made it worse.

Marisa McCaffery, 14

I don't mind illegal immigrants actually. Even if they're illegal, they're not going to do anything criminal because they're not going to want to get caught.

Mario Cajas, 11
New Jersey

I'm from Ecuador. I came to America five years ago to get a better future. I feel great because I know that we're working for freedom, and soon all of us are not going to be immigrants. We're working it out so we can all get a better job. Soon we could all be the same.

Arekio Spina, 17

I'm from Colombia. We are humans. We have feelings. We are not animals. We do the same things that American people can do, and we want the same rights.

Maria Hernandez, 18
Cornwall, N.Y.

I'm from Mexico. I think all immigrants should have rights, and that's why I'm here today. We came here in search of a better life for our families and to have a better opportunity to study and to have a better life. I've been here ten years. Some difficulties about living in America are that people look at you different. They treat you different because you are different. If you're not white, they don't give you the same rights as if you were a white.

Karim Smith, 13

Everybody is equal. Nobody is better than anybody.

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