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The elegant costumes were part of Mexican Independence Day in Philadelphia.

The elegant costumes were part of Mexican Independence Day in Philadelphia.

TODOS SOMOS MEXICANOS

JimSmith/ElHiSpano

Philadedelphia – “We are all Mexicans.’ This was the prevailing message at Mexican Independence Day festivities, Sunday, as some seven to eight thousand Mexican families received a heartfelt message of welcome from Mayor Michael Nutter and a host of other state and city officials.

       A little more than a week since a photograph of a three-year-old Syrian refugee whose body had washed ashore moved European leaders to open their doors, the warm images of Mexican families gathered at Penn’s Landing for a 205th Mexican Independence celebration evoked a sense of camaraderie from officials whose own families had come here from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Italy, Korea and elsewhere.

     Decrying the much publicized remarks of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter asserted that such “people who may not have lived a diverse life,” are clearly “not qualified to lead the United States under any circumstances.”

  “You have friends here in Philadelphia, you have friends here in Pennsylvania,” added  Mayor Nutter. “Do not let anyone put you down. You should be proud of who you are. We stand with you.”

   A parade of city and state officials voiced similar sentiments, including Pennsylvania State Secretary Pedro Cortes, Education Secretary Pedro Rivera; Special Asst. to the Lt. Governor, Juvencio Gonzalez; Councilman David Oh, Councilman Mark Squilla and Mayoral Candidate Jim Kenney.

     City Councilman Squilla lauded the Mexican Independence day as an “amazing event.”

Tradtitions, like this Mexican dance were part of festivities that public officials urged immigrants to hold on to.

Traditions like this Mexican dance were part of festivities that public officials urged immigrants to hold on to.

Leticia Roa Nixon, led this group in traditional indigenous dance routine on Sunday.

Leticia Roa Nixon, led this group in traditional indigenous dance routine on Sunday.

Pennsylvania Education Secretary, Pedro Rivera joined Gov. Wolf and other officials in urging Students to study and hold on to their culture.

Pennsylvania Education Secretary, Pedro Rivera joined Gov. Wolf and other officials in urging Students to study and hold on to their culture.

   Noting the “well-behaved” mixture of families, older adults and children were all having “a good time, Councilman Squilla enthused: “This is what Philadelphia is all about and you make great.”

   “Always hold on to your culture, hold on to your language and hold on to your values,” added the South Philadelphia Councilman.

    After recalling his own immigrant ancestors from Ireland who  had either ‘starved” or fled a blight that hit their potato crops before the U.S. Civil War, Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney said, “They told us to go back where we came from.”

   “They didn’t want to hire us.” So signs of “No Irish Need Apply” appeared in business windows. “They burned down two of our churches and tried to burn down a third,” added Kenney. “But we fought back.”

  “They didn’t want us here, the same way they don’t want you here,”  continued Kenney.  “But guess what? We want you here.  We’re not going to turn our back on you.”

   Echoing Councilman Squilla, Kenney recalled that his ancestors had their “Gallic” language “beaten” out of them, and urged the new arrivals from Mexico, “not to lose your language and don’t lose your culture.”

   “I’m so happy you’ve chosen Philadelphia as your home.”  

  Since opening her 9th street law office in 2010, Elaine Cheung, Esq. has represented Spanish and Chinese-speaking clients on a variety of immigration and deportation issues. Of the comments of The Donald on Mexicans coming to the U. S.A., she said: “He is really out of touch with who immigrants are and who is actually coming to the shores of America and airports of the United States.”

    “Before it was starving Irish people and later it was Jews fleeing Nazi occupied Europe or Italians.” The people who are coming from Central America and Mexico, Ms. Cheung continue, have similar motivations: “They are coming to make a better life for their children and families, and for economic reasons.”

   “A lot of Central Americans are escaping violence and danger; and whatever perilous journeys they are embarking on is less dangerous than what they have left at home.”  

   “So when (Trump) says the people coming across the Mexican border are criminals and rapists, he is out of touch with reality, and  he obviously doesn’t have experience working with immigrants. I don’t think he can win without the Latino vote.”

   The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Attorney Cheung added, “The people who come as immigrants are the people who are more courageous and more entrepreneurial in nature.”

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