As immigration plans emerge, Michigan activists plan for march on Washington

Jan 28, 2013

President Obama and federal lawmakers are announcing new plans for major immigration reform this week.

That comes as activists from Michigan and around the country are preparing for a major immigrant rights march in Washington, D.C. this spring.

There are an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, and an estimated 100,000 in Michigan. Advocates hope to send at least 250 affected families from across the state to the “Keep Families Together” march on April 10th.

Congressman Gary Peters, a Democrat representing Detroit and much of Oakland County, says he’s hopeful that event can capitalize on growing public pressure for immigration reform.

“I think if most Americans can hear these compelling stories of people trapped in a dysfunctional immigration system, and the types of problems it’s created for their families…the American people will not
believe that’s an acceptable system,” Peters said.

Peters says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that real immigration reform is possible, despite likely fierce opposition in the Republican-dominated U.S. House.

A bipartisan group of Senators and President Obama are releasing frameworks for such reform this week.

Immigration reform advocates are cautiously hailing the Senate framework on some key points. They’re happy it includes a so-called “earned path to citizenship” for those now in the country illegally.

Detroit resident Cindy Garcia will attend the April march with her family. She’s fought successfully to prevent her husband, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, from being deported.

“Because if I can do it for myself, and my family, I can do it for the eleven other million families. Because when I stand here and tell my story, it’s not just for me,” Garcia said.

“I have to think of other children being separated from their families, and it’s not fair.”