May Day march takes over Downtown Yakima for immigration reform
YAKIMA, Wash.- Nearly 100 people marched through downtown Yakima on May 1 to recognize farm workers in central Washington.
However, they're also using the march to stop those workers from getting deported from Yakima County by demanding comprehensive immigration reform.
“It's been 12 years since the first march and we believe it's absolutely necessary for our economy, for our families and the civic vitality of the Latino community,” David Morales said.
Morales is with the May 1st Coalition and said they want the county to stop working with ICE.
He said ICE pays Yakima County hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to help deport people.
Morales said last week there were almost 40 people under ICE arrest in the county jail.
“ICE comes and takes people twice a week to Tacoma. So, you put the math together and that's about 80 families a week that separated from our community,” he said.
Included with the wanted reform, is the unification of families that have been separated by deportation.
Councilwoman Dulce Gutierrez said it's needed because the city wouldn't be able to survive without these families.
“In Yakima the local government, the local economy and the school district are all dependent on immigrant families that long have been in our communities,” she said.
Morales said problems caused by breaking up families goes beyond the home.
“It taxes the foster system. It makes it much harder for farmers to get workers for the agriculture economy that we have around here,” he said.
The march didn't shut down the city entirely, but Morales said every step taken in the street can lead to change for those living in the valley.
Morales said he hopes this march will inspire the Yakima County commissioners to stop contracting with ICE to prevent people from being deported.