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National movement "A Day Without Immigrants" is celebrated in Michiana

ELKHART, Ind. -

The national movement, “A Day Without Immigrants” in Michiana. Many local organizations came together to support immigrant communities. Immigrant-owned businesses closed their doors and students didn’t attend school.

From South Bend to Elkhart a least a hundred people marched in solidarity.

The Elkhart-Goshen Sanctuary Coalition helps house those at risk of deportation by offering sanctuary. They’re also forming a rapid response network, that comes in handy when ICE is at the door.

“Whenever there’s an immigration raid or if someone is at risk of deportation in their home or workplace groups of congregations and individuals will receive a text to come and show up in peaceful protest and prayer,” says Katerina Friesen, who works with the coalition.

Dancing, signs with messages like “no human being is illegal," “keep families together,” along with Mexican and American flags flooded Main Street on Monday.

Dara Marquez, one of the many organizers, says the Latino community needs more visibility. “The more conversation and activities we can understand and share that perspective.”

 Marquez adds even though Elkhart is a small town, about a dozen Michiana organizations helped out and more than 20 business closed their doors.

“Immigrant owned businesses closed to stand in solidarity,” says Marquez.

Marquez immigrated to Elkhart when she was three. Growing up as an undocumented student, she says immigration is more complicated than one might think.

“In saying one is undocumented one is not, do it the legal way. It’s much more complex than that.”

But fifth grader, George Vazquez completely understands why he didn’t go to school today.

“We are part of America. What we do is we don’t do anything for a day and what I think happens is that they see that they need us,” he said.

According to the census, in Elkhart 15.3 per cent of the population is Latino. Marquez says their contribution to the city can no longer be underestimated.

“We hope that the continuation and momentum after this day is there so we can build relationships with our mayor and city councils so that they know how to better serve us.”

From Cueramaro Supermarket, families traveled down Prairie Street to Mennonite Church and ended at the civic plaza in downtown Elkhart.

“It’s going to be very difficult to throw us out and physically remove us because we have a community here that’s willing to support our families,” says Marquez

More information on sanctuary housing can be found here

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