Local commemoration of King's dream urges protection for immigrant families

50 years later, challenges to King’s “Beloved Community” include keeping immigrant families from being torn apart by broken immigration system

Marching through Grand Rapids last Saturday, Michigan United led a group of immigration reform advocates who celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by advocating justice for immigrant families. The group included “DREAMers” young people brought to U.S. as children without documents, as well as many other advocates and citizens including speakers Lindsey Rosa - Paz Esperanza y Amor Siempre; attorney Richard Kessler; Cyndi Hicks, real estate agent; Zulema Moret, professor, Grand Valley State University; and Deacon Carlos Gutierrez, St Joseph the Worker Church, along with Erica Martínez González and Denise Lopez of Michigan United.

They made a round trip from Lincoln Park to GOP Kent County Headquarters. There, they called on U.S. Representative Justin Amash and colleagues to keep immigrant families together with a path to citizenship.

“The Republicans in the House can act in the spirit of Dr. King’s call for justice from 50 years ago by providing justice for families that are being torn from one another by an immigration system no one wants,” said Lopez. “We march today to ask Congressman Amash to do right by the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who need a path to citizenship to stay together.”

Martínez González was brought to the U.S. at 15. She lamented attempts by representatives to deport people like her who had no choice in coming here and are Americans in virtually every sense of the word.

“Part of Dr. King’s message was about the promise of America and hope,” she said. “No part of his ‘Dream’ included snatching people from their families and sending them back to countries they barely remember if at all. If the people who voted to deport me were to meet me on the street, they would know just how American I am. What I need, what my family needs is protection, not prosecution. It’s time for a path to citizenship.”