Around 400 protesters took to the streets of downtown Grand Rapids today to protest the Trump administration rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
DACA allowed certain immigrants who entered the United States illegally as a minor to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
The march was organized by Movimiento Cosecha GR. Cosecha GR is a nonviolent organization that is working on bringing people together to fight for the protection of immigrants in the U.S.
The march grew in numbers at Rosa Parks Circle and marchers then made way to the Blue Bridge with police escorts.
The protesters crossed the bridge chanting, “Build bridges, not walls.”
The protester’s chanting echoed in the streets and each of them had a flag, banner, or poster in hand to show their distaste in the rescinding.
“These are not illegals,” said Carola Carassa. “These are classmates, neighbors, friends, family, coworkers… These are people.”
Many protesters were pushing strollers with their kids in them, but other kids were holding signs and chanting along with their families.
Among the protesters was a Grand Rapids Community College student named Brandon Reyes. Reyes is also a member of Movimiento Cosecha GR and was very passionate about the event.
“When DACA was first introduced, that gave us a lot of courage to step out of the shadows,” Reyes said. “Now they know how to find us and where we live, but I hope that by doing this, people will still care.”
The protesters continued their march from Pearl street down to Lyon street before stopping at Calder Plaza underneath the sculpture.
Throughout the march, the chanting voices never died down with chants like, “Stop separating families,” “Education, not deportation” and “Here to stay.”
“This is so important to me,” an emotional Matilde Eurich said. “Although I’m legal, so many people aren’t and so many families are suffering because of what has happened. I’m here to support the other families, and I think this will work.”
At Calder Plaza, the protesters sang uplifting Latin American songs together and many lit candles and listened to the songs that were sung.
The demonstration ended at 8:30 p.m., with many people still holding their candles. A few chants could be heard as people walked away.
Reporters Sam Swart and Carson McCready contributed to this report.