Immigrant rights march in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids, MI – More than 200 immigrants and their supporters marched for immigrant rights on Aug. 24. Mexican, Central American and Caribbean groups and families united in Lincoln Park on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids at noon. Leaders from religious, union and community groups spoke and then led a march through the neighborhood to protest outside the Republican Party headquarters. After chanting and singing, the protesters marched the mile back to the park for a cookout and party.
Carlos Gutierrez of Saint Joseph the Worker Parish spoke through a megaphone to the crowd saying, “Millions of immigrants that live in our country did not just come here for a vacation. They came here for their very survival, because they had no other alternative. War, violence, economic and social discrimination, racism, and political repression, are driving people and families out of their countries looking for security and a better future.”
Gutierrez continued, “We have dehumanized our immigrant brothers and sisters and we have forgotten our common human bond. We forget about all the women who travel so bravely to unite their families in the U.S. The mothers who see their sons and daughters leaving home, the mothers who pray that they will return one day, worried that their children might disappear or even be killed. The wives who stay home and keep their family together while their husbands are forced to leave and make great sacrifices to find work in the U.S. Don’t forget the children who grow up without their fathers at home because the fathers had to immigrate to earn money. Remember the sadness of the families who cannot even be united at a funeral, when a loved one dies back at home and they cannot return because of the broken immigration system. There are no strangers here; we are all one family, the family of God.”
Lindsey Rosa of Peace, Hope and Love Forever, spoke about the struggles of undocumented immigrants as the number of deportations continues to rise. Rosa said, “We are coming together on the 50th anniversary March on Washington D.C. We are marching today in solidarity with tens of thousands marching from coast to coast. We are also marching in solidarity with the spirit of Martin Luther King and with all those who have fought for justice throughout history, with Gandhi and with Rigoberta Menchu, with people both known and unknown.”
Rosa ended by saying, “I want to remember today, those who are currently undocumented and living in fear, and stress and anxiety, and those who cannot be here because they have been deported. We still remember and love them. We still continue to fight so this does not continue to happen…the universal fight for justice is the only true and honorable thing a person can do with their life. I know we will continue to fight until immigration reform is realized.”
West Michigan Coalition for Immigration Reform organized the protest and march.