More than 1,000 pro-immigrant activists marched through the streets of Milwaukee on Thursday as part of this year's May Day events, calling for fewer deportations and for equal rights for immigrants.
Rain may have held down the number of people who took part in the annual march. Also, an immigration reform bill long-sought by Latino activists is stalled in Congress.
Those who marched still had plenty to say. Marisa Leza of Green Bay says her father was sent back to Mexico following a hit-and-run car accident. Leza says her dad took responsibility for his error and was serving probation. Leza says the deportation hurts her family.
“We do miss him,” she said. “Every day we talk to him, but it’s just not the same. We were separated unjustly, and I just wish he was here today.”
Like Leza, Milwaukee high school junior Patricia Avalos was born in Mexico and brought to the United States as a young child. Avalos says her main concern is what comes next in her schooling: “the pressure of maybe not being able to go to the specific colleges that I want to go to; maybe not being able to have certain aid and funds.”
The immigration debate in Washington, D.C., is partly over things like education, deportation and a path to citizenship. Texas-born Celeste Contreras of Milwaukee says the legislation is complex, but something needs to pass.
“It’s very frustrating because right now families are in limbo,” said Contreras. “One foot’s out the door, one foot’s in this door.”
Immigration marchers say their passion for change is still there, but worry their cause is again caught in election year politics.