COMMUNITY VOICES | Organizers, immigrants explain October 5 march in Minneapolis

Hundreds are expected for the National March for Dignity and Respect in Minneapolis on Saturday, October 5. The City of Minneapolis permits are approved. It will start at noon from the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, and will finish at the Hennepin County Government Center with speakers from labor groups, faith organizations, immigrant communities and allies. The forecast predicts 60 percent chance of precipitation and organizers are asking attendees to plan accordingly. Organizers are excited and hopeful.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Emilia Gonzalez Avalos is one of the organizers of the march.

Emulating actions across the nation, the March for Dignity and Respect aims to continue the pressure on the House of Representatives to pass a comprehensive immigration reform. At the moment, the nation lives under a federal government shut down. For the immigrant community that means that while some applications for permanent residence or citizenship or asylum may experience delays, border patrol and detention centers keep processing and deporting people.

Catalino, 35 is scheduled for deportation on October 22 after he was picked up and turned in to ICE over an alleged minor driving infraction that would not break a sweat on any documented individual.  Catalino has called Minnesota home for about ten years, and is the father and main breadwinner of a four-year-old daughter who receives continued treatment for asthma, and an 11-year-old boy who will be eligible for DACA once he turns 15.

Mary, 32 is scheduled for deportation this month. Mary’s ex-boyfriend and U.S. citizen made a call to ICE, after Mary broke up the relationship, reporting her for working with fake documentation. Mary is the mother and solely supporter of a DACA holder high school student and four-year-old U.S. citizen boy.

Similar stories replicate across the nation. In the verge of a possible immigration reform passage, families keep being separated and individuals deported at record numbers, this year expected to exceed 1.5 million people.

Currently, one bill has already passed in the Senate. It addresses undocumented and documented migration, heavy border security, strict employer hiring protocol, and verification systems to keep track of visitors with temporary stay allowance. The Senate bill, S.744, also would grant green cards to DREAMers and some agricultural workers. However, the path to citizenship for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants is long, about 12 years. The bill doesn't please everyone but its passage is a victory for those who have been working on the issue for years and watched immigration reform sink six years ago.

“This is the first time in 20 years that we’ve been very close to grant freedom for the undocumented immigrant community,” said veteran activist Pablo Tapia, leader of the Asamblea de Derechos Civiles. House Democrats released their own bill proposal on Wednesday, in hopes to retake the debate on immigration and make pressure in the House of Representatives.

After all, the mainstream supportive narrative for immigration reform highlights not only that the United States is a nation founded on the backs of immigrants, but it is just common sense economic policy.

“The time for commonsense immigration reform has never been more propitious. There is a clear consensus for change that has produced a movement whose breadth and diversity has rarely been seen in American politics. This October, we will witness this broad movement for reform mobilize in Washington, DC and in more than 100 cities across our nation” said Rafael Morataya, organizer member of the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest unions in the nation and the largest healthcare union.

In Minnesota, the coalition is strong, diverse, and determined. Centro Campesino, La Mesa Latina, the Minnesota Immigrant Law Center, the Interfaith Coalition, Jewish for Community Action, ISAIAH, Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, Local 17, Local 26, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, the Minnesota AFL-CIO and many more. Buses are expected to come from outside the Twin Cities metro area and greater Minnesota.

Reverend John Gutterman, leader of the Interfaith Coalition hopes this action will push members of Congress, especially members of the GOP “House members need to act. Comprehensive Immigration Reform is good for the economy and good for families.”.

Student and organizer Lourdes de la Luz, from La Mesa Latina expressed the urgency and momentum living in the Minnesotan community after the passage of the MN Dream Act; however the immigrant community agrees that the immigration situation at the federal level, is the ultimate goal; “We don’t want to be discriminated. We are taking the streets to claim dignity and demand respect. We encourage the community to hear our call and march together this October 5th”.

The event will begin at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis at 12:30 p.m. with an interfaith prayer service followed by the march at 1:00 p.m. along Hennepin Avenue in downtown. For more information, look for tweets at #oct5cirmarch.

Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation.

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Emilia Gonzalez Avalos's picture
Emilia Gonzalez Avalos