Whatever your feelings are about the recent Occupy Wall Street Protests, it’s not too often that the concerns of the undocumented are represented in a movement not solely focused on immigration concerns. We at Atlas have been getting emails from undocumented youth interested in either participating in or simply checking out what’s happening at zuccotti park and how they can protect themselves from possible arrest. So, Friday night, I swung by downtown Manhattan to try and get some answers.
I ran into Sebastian from Columbia who informed me that ever since Wednesday there has been a growing movement to give immigrants a voice at the event. Sebastian is from Columbia and is helping man the new “Occupa en Espanol” table in the Northeast corner of the park. OEE is trying to gather together pro-immigrants and to discuss change affecting the undocumented. I spoke with Sebastian and relayed the concerns that are keeping many immigrants away (lack of translation, fear of arrest leading to deportation.) Sebastian expressed sympathy and understand and recommends the following four points:
1) The OEE table is providing information in Spanish about the occupation (and hopes to have other languages soon!) On Sunday at 4pm in the park they all be hosting a meeting entirely en espanol (with English translation) for those who have been unable to participate due to lack of English fluency.
2) Sebastian recommends staying within the park if you are afraid of becoming arrested. As he told us, “the marches are fun but the real work is being done with the conversations here inside the park.”
3) If you are going to march it was recommended to stay by the legal observers. These are groups of people in bright green hats who are there to ensure that everyone (police and protestors alike) is acting lawfully. Obviously staying non violent, peaceful and calm are key points as well.
4) Lastly, if you have any concerns Sebastian recommends stopping by the legal table in the park. Staffed with volunteer lawyers from throughout the city they can answer all the questions you may have about what your participation could mean for your status, whether you are a green card holder or undocumented and everything in between. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions before you head over.
If you aren’t undocumented but are interested in how they are the 99% please check out this wonderful post written by one of our founder’s about her experiences as an undocumented immigrant in NYC.
No matter your views of the protests, it certainly is a fascinating phenomenon happing right here in our own city so go and check it out!