GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An annual protest held by a group advocating rights for undocumented immigrants was forced to switch up it's approach due to COVID-19.
The event, which happens every year on May 1, is organized by Movimiento Cosecha.
The purpose of the event is to advocate for undocumented immigrants to be able to get a driver's license. Though in the midst of the coronavirus, there was also an emphasis on these immigrant workers doing jobs deemed essential under executive orders without recognition.
"We’ve lived in the shadows and now the American public is understanding and appreciating how essential our work is," said Sergio Cira-Reyes, spokesperson for Movimiento Cosecha.
He says the undocumented community is in a particularly tough spot right now as they do not qualify for any sort of assistance.
“We can’t have society demanding our community to perform cheap labor, labor that allows many industries to boom and leads to the type of economy we had pre COVID-19, while at the same time not allowing our community to have a basic credential, which is a drivers license," Cira-Reyes said.
Everyone participating in the caravan met at 12:00 p.m. in Lincoln Park on the city's west side. The caravan took off towards downtown around 1:00 p.m..
Silvia Bernal told FOX 17 Friday, "We need to be able to go to work or to the grocery store or take the kids to school.”
Vehicles, with signs taped to their hoods and windows, circled downtown several times before heading back towards Lincoln Park.
“This is important because my husband is from Mexico and he has had a lot of difficulty as well trying to get his license," Maria Roberto said.
Officers with the Grand Rapids Police Department showed up to the park about an hour before things kicked off. They had a quick conversation with organizers about traffic safety and then followed along with the caravan on bicycles and motorcycles.
“We are as a society, we are only as strong as our weakest link and right now the undocumented community is our weakest link,” Cira-Reyes said.