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After seven years without one, Puerto Rican parade in Trenton prompts discussion about immigration

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After seven years without any parade, Puerto Ricans celebrated their heritage and culture with their traditional parade and Boricua Festival in Trenton on September 8. Mill Hill Park was full of live music and all kinds of different foods from Latin America.  

This year the idea of celebrating the Puerto Rican parade wasn’t just about to throw a party and celebrate their cultural heritage. They wanted to show support to their people and all of those minority groups who had been attacked by the current administration. To emphasize the importance of staying together and strong as a community in these days.

The VOICE talked to the current Puerto Rican Grand Marshall Paul Perez, who is involved in the Trenton community and lost a runoff election with the current mayor, Eric Jackson, who was also present at the parade.

Perez said, “We need to participate in these kinds` of events with the purpose of keeping our community together and letting the people know that we are here for help each other no matter their race, skin color or political views.”

This year marked the fortieth celebration for the Trenton Boricuas, but organizers say it was a challenge to collect the money needed to pay all the expenses to run the parade. The costs were almost 12,000 dollars according to Jorge Tapia, this year’s event coordinator.

“This year we had to pay all this money to make this happen when other years this was all in the house. But thanks to all the sponsors, the Jeep clubs, the Partnership for Trenton, and some other who contributed, this was possible.” Tapia said.

As the parade was being celebrated, one woman was holding a sign, “Support DACA” referring to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the policy established by the Obama Administration in June 2012 which allows people who entered the country illegally as minors to avoid deportation and be eligible for a work permit. President Trump announced his intent to end the program, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from many people, especially Latinos.

The VOICE asked people around the parade about their thoughts on DACA and the current administration.

Jorge Tapia said, “I don’t want to go too political, but as soon as he got to office he started eliminating a lot of programs that were helping undocumented people…it looks like he wants to take all of us out, those who don’t have blond hair, blue eyes, and white skin in this country he wants to ship us to the countries he feels we should be at. This is a country that is composed of all of us, we all make it America.”

Another parade attendee, Moraima Santos, a Puerto Rican who has been in Trenton for more than 32 years also responded to the current immigration issues saying, “No es justo! It’s not fair! We deserve all to be treated equal and especially all those kids who are studying and helping the economy of this country.”

Not only Puerto Ricans but other Latinos attended the event and also had the President’s immigration policies on their minds. One of them, Jose Ruiz, a Guatemalan man raised in Trenton since he was 12 years old, told The VOICE, “You know, I have a friend who is now worried because of this thing going on with DACA. He told me he is afraid since his kids are DREAMers and the government has all of his information.”

The boricuas encouraged other minority groups to celebrate their heritage and to be proud of their cultures. “Trenton is a great place to live and what makes Trenton a great city is our people, our mix of traditions, this is our home and we are going to take care of it.” Grand Marshall Paul Perez said.

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