By CHAO YAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — On May Day, workers and immigrants across Michigan will rally to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Under the slogan “Rise up,” the Michigan effort is a part of national action across 200 cities on Monday, May 1. The seven Michigan cities scheduled to participate are Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pontiac, Battle Creek and Rochester.
The action in Michigan is primarily sponsored by Michigan United, a statewide civil rights organization. Other pro-immigrant groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Michigan Muslim Community Council and Emerge USA, are also supporting the event.
“It was a good idea to use May 1 to show that the vast majority of people in this country have respect for what the immigrants do for our country, including those who are here without formal identification,” said Adonis Flores, the Detroit immigration organizer for Michigan United.
May 1 is not only a seasonal celebration but also International Workers’ Day. Since the 1880s, the day has been devoted to labor demonstrations fighting for better working conditions.
Ed Montemayor, a Lansing organizer and the founder of Michigan Latinx Info Cluster, said young people are playing a role in the pro-immigrant movement through groups such as United We Dream and Cosecha.
In Lansing, the action rally will be in front of the State Capitol. The groups’ goal is to challenge the Trump administration’s more aggressive deportation policy and to highlight the message that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants.
Montemayor said that “99 percent of people have some immigrant blood themselves, so there should be no different treatment between the majority and the minority.”
Furthermore, 80 percent of children living with an undocumented adult were born in this country, according to Montemayor.
“If you were to deport anyone who is undocumented here, you would break so many families,” Montemayor said. “I don’t think that’s what our society wants to see.”
Montemayor added that immigrants are vital in creating jobs and boosting the economy.
A 2014 report by the American Farm Bureau Federation indicated that undocumented workers accounted for half of hired U.S. farm workers.
Since deporting the U.S.’s 11 million undocumented immigrants became a federal priority, the lack of a workforce for farms could be a concern impacted by the enforcement measures.
Gov. Rick Snyder said he recognizes the significance of migrant workers to the agriculture industry.
“We actually help to support programs to bring in the documented workers, but actually to bring them in to help increase our migrant farm populations,” Snyder said in an interview with Capital News Service. “I’m actually proactively encouraging the migrant farm workers in Michigan.”
Maria Van Core, the president of the Greater Lansing Area chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, will be one of the speakers at the Lansing rally.
Van Core said her group has been trying to get support to make Lansing a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants — a position the Lansing City Council endorsed and then quickly reversed earlier this year.
“Sadly, we got declined,” Van Core said. “In a lot of ways, we understand it, for we don’t want our city to lose federal funds. But there’s more that we have to do. We have a lot of undocumented citizens. They have helped our community, have given money to support the community.”
Van Core said it feels like the U.S. is stepping back to anti-immigrant eras such as the 1930s.
“Back then, they deported my grandmother, when she was living in Chicago,” Van Core said. “I hope this won’t happen again.”
More information about the rallies can be found on: https://reformimmigrationforamerica.org/