YORK, PA (TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2018) -Immigrant rights powerhouses CASA and Make the Road Pennsylvania, held a rally this afternoon with one of the staunchest defenders of Puerto Rican and immigrant rights Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).  At the end, Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria in South Central PA and the Lehigh Valley promised to turn their anger into power through voting.

“From hurricane Maria to the Muslim ban to the cancellation of DACA we have a monster in the White House whose politics must be rejected this November,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA.

“We have power in our votes and in Pennsylvania those votes can make the difference,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois, a Puerto Rican pro-immigrant activist. “Immigrants who have become citizens must stand up to defend immigrants who are not yet citizens, Puerto Ricans in the diaspora must stand up for Puerto Ricans on the Island, and Americans of good will have to stand up to the hate and division that is coming from Washington.”

More than 2,000 minors were taken from their parents at the border while seeking asylum. And millions of Puerto Ricans are still suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Maria as they prepare for hurricane season.

The issue of family separation was front and center at the event as Luz Colon, Executive Director of the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, announced that the Governor’s office will be establishing a clear policy for the Pennsylvania State Police to ensure that  no person is treated in a discriminatory way, and that state police are focusing their resources on keeping us all safe, and not on facilitating deportations.

Under this policy, the resources of the State Police will serve to support victims of crime, and not be used to harass and detain individuals.
State police / ICE collaboration was discovered through multiple media investigations and through reports by CASA and MTR members.

“Our communities analyzed a crisis with the Pennsylvania State Police practice and we organized,” said AdanJesus Marin, Director of Make the Road Pennsylvania.  “We thank Governor Wolf for agreeing to adopt this critical policy change and we celebrate our members who make that change happen.”

The highlight of the rally was the keynote speech by Congressman Luis Gutierrez (IL 4).  Beloved by both the Puerto Rican community and immigrants, Congressman Gutierrez gave a fiery speech about the criminal mismanagement of the federal response to Hurricane Maria and connected the unacknowledged deaths of thousands on the Island to the continuing separation of thousands of children from their parents at the border.

The rally took place at Calvary United Methodist Church in York and topped off a day in which the organizations hosted both a member roundtable and an interchange with local governmental leaders regarding efforts to provide services and community to residents recently arrived from the Island since Hurricane Maria.