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Latino community pushes for immigrant rights at City Commission meeting

December 5, 2012

crowd

Last night over 200 people, mostly from the Latino community, came to the weekly meeting at the City of Grand Rapids to ask the City Commission to take a stand with them and demand the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to obtain a Michigan driver’s license.

The immigrant rights community has been organizing around this issue ever since Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson decided to punish those who are undocumented and not allow them to obtain a driver’s license.

In early November, hundreds of people calling for these rights rallied in Lansing, where they demanded a meeting with Governor Snyder’s office. The statewide effort was able to meet with Snyder’s office, but with no clear outcome, so now groups around the state are pressuring local governments to assist them in overturning Sec. of State Ruth Johnson’s anti-immigrant position.

Picture 2On Monday, some of those who came to the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting spoke before the Wyoming commissioners, as was stated by Luz Guel, one of the organizers of last nights action at City Hall. Guel was one of several who spoke about the justice of undocumented people obtaining a drivers license, since driving is such a necessary reality for people who work and have children.

Some of those who addressed the city commission were students who want to stay in Michigan, but have suffered from family members being deported, harassed and intimidated by law enforcement. Others talked about living in constant fear of deportation, since they do not have a driver’s license, but drive out of necessity of raising a family. One mother, who was nearly in tears, said that some days she doesn’t take her kids to school because of the risks involved.

It took great courage for her and several others who identified as undocumented to get up and speak before the city officials. Besides those who were most effected by the State policy, there were also some allies in the room who spoke. One ally, Azizi Jasper, talked about how living in a state that doesn’t have a very good mass transit system makes it nearly impossible for people to not use a car. He said it is not just and will only harm Michigan if this injustice is allowed to continue.

Here is a short video of the comments made by a Latino pastor that reflects the urgency and justice of this issue.

After the public comment period was over, most of the Commissioners thanked people for their comments and said they would do what they could to assist the immigrant community on this issue. Commissioner White agrees with the request and acknowledged that the US has a history of changing the law to accommodate the need for immigrants to come to this country.

Mayor Heartwell said he knows that the immigrant community makes Grand Rapids a better city and that all people have the rights to move about without identification. He states that they don’t have direct control over the issue of drivers’ licenses and that Governor Snyder is an advocate for immigrants and that maybe there is a difference between Ruth Johnson and the Governor, even though this writer sees no indication that the Snyder administration has been pro-immigrant rights over the past two years.

Heartwell went on to say they have a legislative committee and since there is legislation being introduced to change the current policy, he thinks that as the 2nd largest city they can pressure the state to make the necessary changes. He also is with the MI Municipal League and the Urban Core of Mayors, which can bring together the power of cities to address issues like this.

While the response was positive from the city commission, make no mistake about it that it is the efforts and the sacrifices that the immigrant community makes, which will eventually win this battle.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. GRIIDCheck permalink
    December 5, 2012 5:03 pm

    “Last night over 200 people, mostly from the Latino community, came to the weekly meeting at the City of Grand Rapids to ask the City Commission to take a stand with them and demand the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to obtain a Michigan driver’s license.”

    Uuuuuuuh so the whole part about not being an American citizen, and having entered the country without legal permission was completely lost on this group?

    What arrogance to just hop the border of a sovereign nation, without going through the process that millions have gone through from every continent, and then demand to be able to get a drivers license!

    “Mayor Heartwell said he knows that the immigrant community makes Grand Rapids a better city and that all people have the rights to move about without identification.”

    The immigrant community? The ones that went through the legal process dont need special legislation! They did it the right way, and became American citizens! They already have state IDs and divers licenses.

    These people are not immigrants, they are openly admitting that they BROKE THE LAW and came into the U.S. without legal permission, and that because they are oh so kind and clean, that all of that should be overlooked? I dont think so. This is unfair to and a slap in the face to legal immigrants who do not deserve to be discriminated against because they were HONEST.

  2. December 5, 2012 5:45 pm

    ah, now your reactionary comments about the previous articles makes even more sense…….you are nothing more than a right-wing troll who has nothing better to do with his time than to make anonymous comments on blogs you object to.

    I have been working with refugees for 25 years and had a foster son who came to the US undocumented as a torture survivor. But I don’t need to justify his coming here or anyone else’s demand for basic human rights to someone who doesn’t have a clue as to why people come to the US in the first place.

  3. GriidCheck permalink
    December 5, 2012 10:41 pm

    “ah, now your reactionary comments about the previous articles makes even more sense…….you are nothing more than a right-wing troll who has nothing better to do with his time than to make anonymous comments on blogs you object to.”

    So basically everything I said was true, and you just cant man-up enough to say it, so you try to slap some political label on me, or make some pointless comment about how I’m posting anonymously, to try to change the subject?

    The point is that these people are demanding that they be allowed to obtain driver licences ADMITTING that they arent U.S. citizens, that they did not get permission to enter the U.S. and that they think they have a right to petition our government to change the law to reward their law-breaking!

    You cannot justify that in any way shape or form.

    “I have been working with refugees for 25 years and had a foster son who came to the US undocumented as a torture survivor. But I don’t need to justify his coming here or anyone else’s demand for basic human rights to someone who doesn’t have a clue as to why people come to the US in the first place.”

    Ooooooh Please!

    We have an immigration PROCESS that you are required to go through for a reason. These people above are no where near “torture survivors” and you damn well know that. 99% of these so-called “underdocumented” (completely made up nonsense phrase) are people that came into this nation by just waltzing across the border and not giving a damn about this nation’s laws, but yet have the nerve to want to be treated like they were born here or went through the legal process.

    Should people that entered this nation without legal permission be rewarded? That is the question. YES or NO.

    Hopefully you ran out of tangents and can straight up answer that.

  4. December 5, 2012 10:50 pm

    The answer is that you still don’t have a clue about this issue and can’t support it with anything other than your xenophobic posturing. If you have no fear about sharing your identity, lets meet in person to discuss this issue further.

  5. GriidCheck permalink
    December 6, 2012 11:45 am

    Why dont you try answering the question I posed and stop this silly dodging.

    You pretend like you know it all, well let’s see you answer my simple questions then.

    Or is it you know deep down that this is rewarding law-breaking?

  6. December 6, 2012 12:24 pm

    What I know is that thousands of people come to the US every day undocumented for a variety of reasons, but mostly out of desperation. I support them coming here, I oppose borders, I support human rights, compassion, mercy and the idea that I should welcome strangers.

    I was part of the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s and 1990s, taking in undocumented political refugees from Central America. We openly defied the law.

    Isn’t it apparent where I stand on this issue by reporting on the immigrants who came to city hall to demand justice? You are just trolling here on this site and it is painstakingly clear that we do not agree on anything, so I will not waste my time responding to you after this response.

    There is no point in having a dialogue with a racist. I know who you are.

    On Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 6:45 AM, Grand Rapids Institute for Informati

  7. GriidCheck permalink
    December 6, 2012 6:38 pm

    “What I know is that thousands of people come to the US every day undocumented for a variety of reasons, but mostly out of desperation. ”

    It’s called illegally. They crossed the border of another nation illegally.

    “I support them coming here, I oppose borders, I support human rights, compassion, mercy and the idea that I should welcome strangers.”

    Really? So If I broke into your house and set up in your basement, are you going to give me my own set of keys or are you going to call the police and have me hauled off and charged with breaking and entering?

    Nations have borders for a reason, and societies have a responsibility to control the flow of goods and people for the benefit of existing citizens and to ensure that people with nefarious motives do not have access to their territory. That is why a nation like Mexico have stringent border laws and are not afraid to enforce them along their southern edge, while they take advantage of gullible types in the U.S. by demanding that we do not enforce the bare minimum of control of ours for “humanitarian” reasons. Do you know how many ILLEGALS have come across the borders and have committed crimes on American citizens? Part of Southern Arizona became dangerous to travel in because of the lax border control laws have allowed narco-terrorists from Mexico to move in. Kidnappings in AZ are off the charts.

    When AZ tried to protect their citizens OF ALL RACES, they were accused of “xenophobia” and “racism” and wanting to institute a Nazi state by the “borders are stupid” crowd.

    “Isn’t it apparent where I stand on this issue by reporting on the immigrants who came to city hall to demand justice? ”

    These were illegal aliens that had the nerve to demand access to drivers licences. They are a bunch of arrogant b*stards. God only knows what “injustice” they “suffered” for not being able to legally drive in a nation THEY ARE NOT LEGALLY SUPPOSED TO BE IN!

    “You are just trolling here on this site and it is painstakingly clear that we do not agree on anything, so I will not waste my time responding to you after this response.
    There is no point in having a dialogue with a racist. I know who you are.”

    Actually what I found is an intellectually bankrupt blogger that has no way to justify a completely illogical position. And like your average “progressive”, you run to the only pathetic outlet you think you have left when you know you’ve been completely cornered, and that is the good old “race card”. Like that is supposed to scare me.

  8. December 6, 2012 6:46 pm

    If you are so sure that I am intellectually bankrupt, then lets have a public debate about this. A real public debate, in person in a public forum.

  9. wouldn't you like to know permalink
    December 8, 2012 3:43 am

    Does this scare you? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0RyvSv5ZOc

    🙂 😀

Trackbacks

  1. One Michigan Undocumented Youth file lawsuit against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson over Driver’s Licenses « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  2. Immigration Rights Alert: Contact Ruth Johnson « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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