Members of the Kalamazoo community came together in support of undocumented youth at a candlelight vigil held by Moviemiento Cosecha Kalamazoo in downtown’s Bronson Park on Jan. 24.
The vigil allowed for those affected by current immigration laws to share their personal struggles. The event also opened up an opportunity for attendees to give words of affirmation to the undocumented immigrants who stood before them at the vigil. Several Kalamazoo natives made it clear that they did not plan on stopping the fight for immigrants.
In addition, the vigil was meant to act as a healing space for those who are affected by the repeal of immigration protection programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status, said Eva Alvarez, member of Moviemiento Cosecha and organizer of the event.
“Their futures are, right now, in jeopardy, and they do not know what is going to be expected so we just want to let them, and the community in general, know that we are here to support,” Alvarez said.
Supporters were asked to form two circles: one of immigrants who have been or may be affected by current immigration policies and those who were there to show support. The circle of supporters surrounded the smaller circle of immigrants to symbolize protection. Along with words of encouragement, Moviemiento Cosecha led empowering chants.
Moviemiento Cosecha Kalamazoo hopes to bring awareness to the lack of support for undocumented immigrants. The organization’s goal is to give a voice to the voiceless and start a movement that will create change, Alvarez said.
“We realize that a lot of individuals do not have a pathway to citizenship and we want people to understand that there hasn’t been a pathway to citizenship,” Alvarez said. “It’s much more complicated than people think.”
Moviemiento fights for the respect, the dignity and the permanent protection of all 11 million undocumented immigrants. These efforts include marches and protests.
“We just want our voices to be heard,” Alvarez said.