A rally for immigration rights flows down Vernor Friday morning, May 1, 2009. The march started at Patton Park and followed Vernor to Clark Park through Detroit's Mexicantown neighborhood.
By Niraj Warikoo
Free Press Staff Writer
from Detroit Free Press, May 1, 2009
Waving Mexican and U.S. flags, thousands of immigrants and their supporters rallied in southwest Detroit today for immigrant rights.
Rally organizers called for comprehensive immigration reform that would offer a path to citizenship for legal and illegal immigrants, and for an end to deportations that they say separate families.
Over the past four years, the number of deportations in Michigan and across the U.S. has sharply increased.
For fiscal year 2008, 7,514 illegal immigrants in Michigan and Ohio were deported, compared to 4,144 in fiscal year 2007, an 81 percent increase. Compared to 2005, when 2,243 illegal immigrants were deported, that’s a 235 percent increase.
The rally started at Patton Park and ended at Clark Park in the heart of the Mexican-American community. Ralliers held up placards that read “Stop the Raids,” “Legalize Hard Work,” and “No Human is Illegal.”
“We need a more humane approach to immigration reform,” said Rosendo Delgado, a co-organizer with Latinos Unidos. This is the fourth annual immigration rally in Detroit. It was smaller compared to previous years when Congress was considering bills that would crack down on illegal immigration.
Detroit police estimated today’s crowd at 5,000 to 7,000.
Jhonatan Ferrer, 19, of Dearborn Heights said many illegal immigrants “live in the shadows of society” and need a path to citizenship so that employers and others can’t take advantage of them. Right now, Ferrer said, “they have no rights.”
Others expressed concerns about deportations and its affect on immigrant communities.
Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government agency that oversees deportations, said the government has “increased strategic enforcement efforts to identity and remove criminal and fugitive aliens.”
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