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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Thousands across the country will march for day without immigrants

Movimiento Cosecha GR

All over town, dozens of immigrant owned businesses have closed, and its because they are on a national strike advocating for drivers licenses for all immigrants.

Idalia Tinoco owns two restaurants off 28th street, “El Desayuno Loco” and “La Casa del Pollo” and as part of her commitment to the protest she is giving all twenty of her employees paid time off so that they can participate in the march called, “the day without immigrants”.

[Tinoco in Spanish]“Una de las formas de apoyar a esta marcha es cerrando nuestros negocios, demostrando nuestro poder como immigrantes lo que contribuyemos, lo que hacemos en este pais. Es no ir a la escuela, no consumir y no trabajar.”

“One of the ways to support this march is by closing our businesses and showing our power as immigrants in how we contribute, and what we do in this country. It means not going to school, not buying anything and not going to work.” 

And Tinoco’s is right in that immigrants in Kent County make significant contributions when it comes to the economic prosperity of the area, according to the latest data immigrants contributed $3.3 billion dollars to the county’s gross domestic product. 

[Tinoco in Spanish] “Quiere decir que nosotros venimos estamos trabajando y estamos haciendo dinero, estsamos pagando nuestros impuestos entonces estamos contribuyendo economicamente al pais.” 

“We come here we work, we make money, and we are paying our taxes.” 

And while officials from Grand Rapids Public Schools have acknowledge that many families in the district will choose not to send their kids to schools, if more than 25 percent of the student body is not in school, the district will have to consider it a “snow day”. Two years ago, more then 35% of the student body was absent because of the march. 

“We stand by those individuals and families who choose to participate in the “day without immigrants”. At the same point we also want to reemphasize the importance about being in school every day, ready to learn.”

That’s John Helmholdt from GRPS, he says families of the students who will not be in school on Wednesday and call ahead letting the school know will have their absences excused. 

Around the country dozens of cities are holding similar peaceful demonstrations. The march is scheduled to begin at noon on Wednesday from Garfield Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News. 

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