Led by immigrant youth known as Dreamers, nearly 300 immigrants and allies marched and rallied in Des Moines on June 15 to call for comprehensive immigration reform now. AFSC joined with 20 other organizations in planning the event.
Sandra Sanchez, who directs AFSC Iowa’s Immigrants Voice Program, said that humane and sensible immigration reform does not involve “building more fences, flying more drones and doubling the number of border patrol and immigration agents.” She encouraged marchers to take action, to call their members of Congress, and “to join with friends and neighbors to show what the American Way is all about.”
A 16-year-old Dreamer, Hector Salamanca-Hernandez explained how frustrating it was to live without documentation prior to the Obama Administration’s announcement of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Last fall, Hector attended a DACA legal clinic organized by AFSC, but was unable to pay the large immigration fee until an aunt gave him an envelope with the money inside. He encouraged other immigrant youth to “never give up on your dreams.”
The march attracted a number of allies, as well, including state representative Marti Anderson. “I’m here because the Hispanic community makes a big contribution to our community,” Marti said. “We need to be a diverse society in order to be a richer society. Parents should not be punished because they brought their children here for a better life.”
A passion for fairness and equality prompted Peter Clay, a member of the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting, to join the march. “Quaker testimonies include community – everyone contributes, and all are part of it,” Peter said. “I stand with people in the shadows and want them to have the chance to live a full life.”
Next up for immigration reform advocates is an interfaith service on June 27 and a large rally on July 27.
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