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March for immigrant rights in Grand Rapids to take place on International Workers’ Day

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- Photo courtesy Movimiento Cosecha Facebook page.

Movimiento Cosecha GR will lead a march for immigrant rights from noon to 5 p.m. on Tues., May 1 at Roosevelt Park.

Movimiento Cosecha GR, or Harvest Movement GR in English, is the Grand Rapids chapter of a nationwide immigrant-led movement looking to receive protection for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

This year, Movimiento Cosecha GR will lead the march on International Workers’ Day, and have titled it “Gran Marcha del Puente del 1o de Mayo” (Great March of the Bridge of May 1st). In preparation of the march, Movimiento Cosecha GR organizers have asked immigrants in Grand Rapids to refrain from going to school and work and from making any purchases (either online or in-store) on May 1. Their objective is to show the rest of the nation the impact immigrants have in the U.S.

A major change the movement demands in Michigan specifically is for undocumented immigrants to be granted the right to obtain a valid driver’s license. In Michigan, undocumented immigrants cannot obtain a valid driver’s license or a state ID. Prior to the march Movimiento Cosecha GR will lead a protest from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Roger’s Plaza asking for valid driver’s licenses for all documented and undocumented immigrants.

On Tuesday, a change to two bills regarding driver’s licenses and Michigan IDs were modified and approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and sent to the House floor. The change in the bills’ wording will remove markings, like the date the license holder is no longer considered to have legal status in the U.S., on Michigan driver’s licenses and IDs that immigrant advocacy groups feared would lead to profiling.

Karla Barberi, an organizer of the march, hopes to bring about change with the protest and march.

“One of the most terrifying and dangerous experiences for an undocumented immigrant is a traffic stop which could lead into deportation,” she said. “Driving without a license is something our community is forced to do. Whether we are driving to work, driving to school, or driving to the doctors, we are being put at risk because our state has denied us the right to drive without fear and that has to stop. The United States of America is the land of the free, and we are being denied of that right.”

For more information on the protest and march, visit the Movimiento Cosecha GR Facebook page.