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May 1 Protest Caravan to demand protections for undocumented and essential workers during the Coronavirus Pandemic


ANN ARBOR, MI: On May 1, 2020, at noon, at Pioneer HS, immigrants and allies will lead a protest caravan through Ann Arbor to demand improved conditions for Southeast Michigan’s undocumented workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The caravan is part of a nationwide action organized by the chapters of Movimiento Cosecha, a national immigrant rights group. Similar protests will take place in Detroit and Grand Rapids, MI as well as Indiana, Massachusetts, and several other states.


“This country has always relied on immigrants. Now, with Michigan and states across the country under quarantine, immigrants make up a large percentage of essential workers risking their lives to sustain the country. It’s time they get the support and protections they deserve,” said Sergio Hurtado, a volunteer organizer with Cosecha of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. 


While many US-Americans are receiving a $1,200 stimulus check, unemployment benefits and small business loans, many immigrant workers do not qualify for federal or state aid. Even spouses who are U.S. citizens—some 1.2 million—are denied stimulus checks if they are married to a tax-paying immigrant without a social security number.


“Millions of immigrants who have been laid off from work because of COVID-19, who are quarantining at home for their safety, or who are risking their health to be essential workers are excluded from all federal and state emergency relief. That means millions of families may not have enough money to buy food and pay rent, utilities, and other monthly bills,” said Yamalith V., who declined to use her last name for fear of legal repercussions.


More than 70,000 U.S. citizens in Michigan live with at least one family member who is undocumented, according to the American Immigration Council. Undocumented immigrants in Michigan contribute approximately $86.6 million in state and local taxes a year, the Michigan League for Public Policy noted in a 2019 report.


To support families excluded from government aid, Movimiento Cosecha has launched a national Undocumented Worker Fund to support immigrant workers and families affected by the pandemic. The fund has raised over $700,000 and distributed resources to immigrants in states across the country, including Michigan.


Release of immigrants held in ICE detention


Caravan participants are also demanding the release of immigrants held in detention by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and ultimately the abolition of ICE. 


Recent reports indicate that nearly 300 detainees have contracted the coronavirus in ICE facilities, according to Physicians for Human Rights. “This is a public health ticking time bomb for the U.S,” PHR reports. A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would release immigrants and asylum seekers held in detention, where COVID-19 threatens to spread widely. 


Hurtado said the final demand of the caravan is for passage of a stalled bill to return the right to a driver’s license for Michigan’s undocumented immigrants. The Drive SAFE bill, introduced in November in the Michigan legislature, would restore access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants in Michigan. 


Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to allow unauthorized immigrants to get a driver’s license. Michigan law allowed it until 2008. In recent years, immigrants with traffic violations have been the fastest growing group of people facing deportation.


Yamalith decried the lack of financial and legal support for her family and her undocumented immigrant community. “We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” she said. “It’s time to give us protections, including drivers’ licenses, for us be seen as people.” 


Who: Immigrants and allies from Movimiento Cosecha, Ann Arbor;

What: Car protest in support of undocumented workers; [protestors will remain in cars due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic]; 

Where: Pioneer High School (601 W Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI 48103);

When: Friday, May 1, 2020 at Noon.


On the Internet: https://www.facebook.com/cosechagr/




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Revised: 04/28/20 17:54:05 -0700.




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