By MATT FRIEDMAN
NEWSDAY STAFF WRITER
April 11, 2006
Soonie described herself as an undocumented Korean immigrant who came to the United States alone in 1998. She quit her job as a day-care worker in February, she said, fearing her illegal status would be exposed if she kept working.
But Soonie, 66, wasn’t too scared Monday to join about 50 other people in Flushing, many of them elderly and of Korean ethnicity, and travel by subway to Manhattan to rally for immigrant rights. She would give only her first name.
“I’ve never committed any felonies before,” she said, speaking through a translator about House Resolution 4377, the measure pending in Congress that would classify her a criminal. “I just can’t imagine how my life will change because of this law.”
The group she was with gathered first in Lipmann Plaza, a small sliver of public space on Roosevelt Avenue near Main Street, where members of the Young Korean American Service and Education Center assembled with several other Queens-based Korean-American advocacy groups.
They piled onto the platform for the No. 7 train and boarded shortly after 1 p.m. for the ride to Manhattan. Within an hour, they reached Washington Square Park, where they were joined by other Korean-American groups from churches and organizations across the tri-state area.
Holding small United States flags, they chanted “We are American!” as they were led by a troupe playing Poongmul, a traditional type of Korean drumming.
“This is an American issue. It’s not only an issue for Mexican-Americans,” said Yu-Soung Mun, executive director of the Young Korean American Service and Education Center. Mun estimates that 1 in 5 Korean immigrants in the New York City area is an undocumented immigrant.
Among the group were many senior citizens. One of them, Hyung-Bin Im, 82, president of the Korean-American Senior Advisory Association, captured the collective feeling when he said through a translator, “We all have been immigrants and newcomers.”