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Immigrant Youth Fight for Their Future: What Will We Do in Grand Rapids?

January 18, 2018

Since the Trump administration announced that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, the immigrant community has been fighting to maintain this program.

DACA youth, their families, friends and allies has been organizing on all kinds of levels, from educational forums to meeting with members of Congress, engaging in sit-ins, strikes and other forms of Direct Action.

Yesterday, hundreds of immigrants, DACA recipients and allies visited members of Congress. These visits were more like office occupations, where Dreamers made lots of noise to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act. A Clean Dream Act would mean that it is not attached to other issues, especially the Congressional budget. Those in DC raising hell have been clear, by saying, “We are not a bargaining chip to be used by Republicans and Democrats.”

Dozens of people from West Michigan sat in on Senator Stabenow’s office in DC, as you can see from these pictures below. Senator Stabenow, while saying she supports Dreamers, has NOT committed to supporting a Clean Dream Act bill.

What Are We Willing to Do?

Of course, when I say we, I mean those of us who are white. Immigrants are fighting every day for their lives. Immigrants are taking risks. Immigrant youth are faced with the possibility that they might also be deported, if DACA is not renewed.

So what are we willing to do? The easiest thing to do is to call Senator Stabenow’s office today and tomorrow to demand a Clean Dream Act. Her DC office phone number is (202) 224-4822.

However, this is only the first of several things that those of us with tremendous privilege, must do. Second, if you are in West Michigan on Friday (January 19), come to the protest rally at 4:30 in downtown Grand Rapids and meet at the Calder Plaza. Information on this direct action can be found on Facebook at this link https://www.facebook.com/events/1557143701005498/. Also, don’t just show up, invite your circle of friends and help us spread the word.

If Congress does not pass a Clean Dream Act on January 19, be ready to take action and find out what groups like Movimiento Cosecha GR, an immigrant-led movement, is asking from us. 

DACA is just part of the Immigrant Justice Movement

As important as it is to pass a Clean Dream Act, this is only one part of a larger movement to provide permanent protection to all immigrants. Movimiento Cosecha GR is leading that movement here in Grand Rapids and you can be part of their work as an ally and fight for permanent protection, dignity and respect for all immigrants. Contact them through their Facebook page to find out when they meet. 

In addition, immigrants are constantly being targeted by ICE agents in West Michigan. If you want to be part of the GR Rapid Response to ICE project, go to their Facebook page. Their next training is scheduled for Wednesday, January 31st, with details here https://www.facebook.com/events/1993245604249285/.

The GR Rapid Response to ICE project consists of directly intervening to stop ICE agents from taking people, plus providing a variety of Mutual Aid to families that have had loved ones put into detention or deported. Here people can offer transportation, provide courtroom solidarity, contribute funds or assist with fundraising.

People can also be involved in offering sanctuary to immigrants who are being targeted, either in their own home or by getting their faith community to commit to being a sanctuary.

These are all important and necessary aspects of being in solidarity with immigrants. We have to be willing to take risks and to put our bodies on the line. If we don’t, then we are no better than the racists who scream, “immigrants should not be allowed to stay here and should just go back to their country of origin.”

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