The immigrant community in West Michigan is tired of living in fear of deportation. That’s why about 1,000 people marched in downtown Grand Rapids today.
The marchers want to be able to drive to work or drop their kids off at school without fear of not returning home to their families.
Erika Telez, one of the marchers, says the protest is about asking for basic American rights.
“We are asking for thing that are simple, like permanent protection, respect and dignity for all immigrant families,” Telez said.
The march culminated in a four-day work strike for the immigrants, who have a huge economic impact in Grand Rapids. During the strike, members of the community did not work or go to school. They also only shopped at immigrant owned businesses.
A big hurdle for the immigrant community in Michigan is obtaining a driver’s license. You need a social security number to get one, and most immigrants have a hard time getting one.
Danny Caracheo, a local activist who took part in the march, says his parents rarely drive cars out of fear of being deported.
“Thanks to DACA, I was able to drive them around, but any time they had to drive anywhere themselves, I couldn’t be at peace of mind,” Caracheo said.
Immigration agents were spotted near the end of the march at Calder Plaza, but no one was arrested.