On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at Washington’s historic Metropolitan AME church for the Here To Stay Rally. The event was one of 70 such rallies held nationwide to support undocumented immigrants.
During the event, the D.C. based-group Elena and Los Fulanos sang “This Land is Your Land” in Spanish, the Howard University Gospel choir sang hymns and clapped and the local Salvadoran brass ensemble Los Pulgarcitos played banda music. Religious leaders and politicians spoke from the pulpit, promising to fight any attempt to deport families and youth. Among them was Chris Van Hollen, a newly elected Democratic Senator from Maryland.
“We will not allow Donald Trump or anybody to turn back the clock on social justice in America we are not going to do it,” Van Hollen said
The diversity of the Washington region was represented in the pews, filled by immigrants from Central America, Africa and Asia.
Max Kim, an undocumented immigrant from South Korea, says “Here to Stay” is more than a slogan to him.
“I came to America at a very young age and now I consider America my home,” said Kim, who lives in Annandale.
Like many of the attendees, Kim is concerned that President-elect Donald Trump will do away with DACA, the program that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children the right to work and avoid deportation. Kim valued the opportunity to share his story at the event.
“I feel that I owe it to the community that helped me grow and helped me learn about America and to give back so that they can now feel safe and tell their stories,” he said.
Gustavo Torres, the executive director of the immigrant rights group CASA, says that many of the immigrants he has spoken to in recent months in his work are scared, but also compelled to act.
By Armando Trull for WAMU
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