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May 1 Protest Caravan seeks protections for undocumented and essential workers during the Coronavius Pandemic

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

 

About 70 cars were involved.

The caravan is part of a nationwide action organized by the chapters of Movimiento Cosecha, a national immigrant rights group. Similar protests took place in Detroit and Grand Rapids, MI 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.

Hurtado said the final demand of the caravan is for passage of a stalled Michigan 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.

Photo courtesy of Paula Pfeffer.
On the Internet: https://www.facebook.com/cosechagr/

EDITOR’S NOTE: Detroit joined the nationwide car caravans demanding dignity for immigrant workers using the banner #EssentialNotDisposable

On May 1, dozens of immigrant workers and families rallied in Patton Park in SW Detroit, calling for dignity, respect, and permanent protection for immigrant workers.

“During this pandemic, undocumented workers and our families have had to choose between risking our health, working in unsafe conditions without necessary protections or a fair wage, or losing the very income we rely on to feed our families,” said Claudia Enriquez, spokesperson for the Cosecha Movement. “The choice before us is to risk dying of hunger or dying of the coronavirus.”

“Enough is enough! As long as this country depends on our labor, it should also respect and protect us. That means access to medical care, safe and dignified working conditions, basic welfare protections, and protection from deportation, said Ms. Enriquez.

 

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2020 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/05/20 17:19:07 -0700.

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