Immigration activists and supporters in Massachusetts have embarked on a 4-day march to demand driver’s licenses for illegal aliens in the state, MassLive.com reported.
The activists, which include many members of the advocacy group Cosecha, will walk from Framingham through Waltham, Somerville and Boston to raise awareness for their cause.
“Children in their own home state are fearing and walking around with uncertainty of whether or not their parents will make it home, whether or not their parents will pick them up from school,” said Cata Santiago, a member of Cosecha.
The group began their march at the Framingham mayor’s office at 3:00 p.m. Friday afternoon and plan to conclude their trek Monday afternoon at the State House, where participants intend to rally for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation that created two tiers of driver’s licenses: standard Massachusetts licenses and REAL ID licenses that complied with federal regulations. He also added an amendment that prohibited anyone without legal status from qualifying from the standard license.
Massachusetts lawmakers introduced a bill in January that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for standard licenses. The bill would also require a subpoena or court order for federal immigration agents to access a licensed motorist’s records. It also wouldn’t allow licenses to be considered the basis for prosecution.
Lawmakers argued that the license ban for undocumented immigrants doesn’t stop them from driving, especially if they travel for work or their family. They argue such a bill would encourage people to obtain their driver’s licenses and thus make sure that everyone has undergone the proper exams before getting on the road.
The Republican governor, however, has no intention of signing the bill if it passes.
“I would certainly veto legislation that gets beyond what we actually worked with the Legislature on a bipartisan basis to put in place,” Baker told reporters. “I mean, the law that we signed basically said if you have lawful presence in Massachusetts you can get a driver’s license for the period in time of which you have lawful presence. I think that’s the right answer.”
Cosecha has organized more “Driving Without Fear” immigrant marches in cities across the country on May Day, the Detroit News reported.
Por todo el país, la comunidad inmigrante se está levantando para manejar sin miedo. Por eso lanzamos la Red de Apoyo #ManejandoSinMiedo para campañas exigiendo licencias para todos o un alto a los arrestos por manejar sin licencias.
— Movimiento Cosecha (@CosechaMovement) April 5, 2019
In Michigan, immigration activists plan to march in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
In a press conference outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, organizers urged Michigan immigrants and allies to skip work, close their businesses and keep their children home from school.
Meet Viridiana Rojo. She is one of the hundreds of immigrant business owners that are pledging to close their restaurant and strike. In exactly 1 week, Las Quekas won't serve any customers. They will be joining in on this years Day Without Immigrants march. pic.twitter.com/cVGfjIRxqh
— Movimiento Cosecha (@CosechaMovement) April 24, 2019
“For too long, undocumented immigrants in Michigan have driven with the fear that we may be arrested, detained and even permanently separated from our families and deported for simply driving without a license to work, to pick up their kids from school, or to the hospital,” said Gema Lowe from Movimiento Cosecha Grand Rapids.
“This May 1, immigrants from all over Michigan will be taking the streets in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo to demand the right to drive without fear. Together, we will show the power and dignity of our community.”
I was not aware crappy Cox stopped allowing licenses to be issued to undocumented immigrants but it figures. I hope this is remedied soon. I won't be able to march but I'll be there in spirit. Maybe I'll write a letter or two. https://t.co/Qj0PvLqe5y
— Amanda N. Douglas (@pearlzb4swine) April 26, 2019
Other cities where marches are planned reportedly include New Jersey, Indiana, Georgia and Wisconsin.
Twelve states already allow residents to apply for driver licenses regardless of their immigration status.
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)