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
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
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
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:
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.