Calvin Students Rally for Immigrant Rights
Yesterday, about 150 people gathered outside on the campus of Calvin College to publicly proclaim their support for immigrant rights. Students and community members also came together to denounce the recent anti-immigration law in Arizona and the similarly proposed legislation here in Michigan.
The event had a religious overtone, which included songs, a liturgy and prayer, but the students were clear about how their faith instructs them to “welcome the alien in a foreign land.” The belief that everyone should be welcomed and treated with dignity was demonstrated by having the entire rally translated into Spanish.
The rally also included several speakers that addressed issues of racial profiling, immigrant rights, and educational opportunities for children of immigrants. The first speaker was Professor Dan Miller who discussed the history of immigration policy in the US. He also made it clear that the current immigration policies do not work and he invite the crowd to support comprehensive immigration reform.
Professor Miller was followed by an African American man who told his very personal story about the difficulty he has had with getting the proper paperwork for his Mexican wife, who was born in the US. He said that the level of bureaucracy was very frustrating and it made him realize how difficult it is for people to want to be legal residents/citizens of the US.
The audience then heard from a young Latina woman who spoke about her desires to go to college. She told the crowd that she can’t be accepted by any college or university because her parents came to the US papers. She talked about how she is now part of a larger struggle to fight for her right to get a college education and what is happening at a national level to pass what is called The Dream Act.
Another Latino addressed the crowd and told his story about wanting the best for himself and his family. He talked about how hard he has worked and the roadblocks he has faced along the way, but that it is important for all of us to stick together and build solidarity, especially if we want equality for everyone.
The rally organizers invited people to sign letters to elected officials and to be involved in ongoing efforts to push for immigrant rights. The Michigan Organizing Project (MOP) will be taking busloads of people to Kalamazoo next month to pressure President Obama on comprehensive immigration reform while he is giving a commencement address.
We also had a chance to briefly interview one of the event organizers on camera.