May Day: Students Protest for Immigrant Rights

by Jashiya Maynard-Woods, Reporter

The state of Wisconsin previously provided a driver’s license for residents that entered the country illegally and recently repealed that option. Raza United Leaders organized the annual May Day march to the state Capitol Building in support of getting driver licenses and other rights for all undocumented immigrants. 

“Since I first participated in a May Day march, which was last year, I realized how much power my voice has and that if I continue to fight and encourage many others to fight with us, we can create change,” junior Maryangeliz Acosta said. “We hope that the march inspires people and makes them realize that their voice is powerful, encouraging them to speak up and fight for justice.”

Raza wasn’t alone in the planning process for this march, the group also received help from others.

“We teamed up with Voces De La Frontera and other groups to help us out with security, and provide us with megaphones and vests,” junior Shaliam Vazquez Colon said.

The planning process took a while, but the club members were already prepared. 

“Planning May Day is always in mind from the beginning of the school year, but it normally takes us up to one and a half months to plan,” junior Jasmine Alvardo Reyes said.

While organization is an important part, another vital part of protesting is the turn out. This isn’t the first year that this event has been organized and, compared to last year, there weren’t as many people joining in.

“ I wish we had a bit more people to come with us because it is a really important day in history to celebrate, and to use our voices to speak up on stuff that we should be speaking up about,” Vasquez Colon said.

Once students, staff and other supporters were inside the Capitol building, participants heard many heartfelt speeches about what it means to be either an immigrant or the child of immigrant parents. 

“My family and I moved to the United States when I was 10. I am privileged to be a US citizen since we came from Puerto Rico, which is U.S. territory. Life was difficult for us when we first moved here because of the language barriers and discrimination. However, I have seen my friends who are part of undocumented families go through so much more than I ever did here in the U.S. I fight for my friends and for all the immigrant families who go through so many struggles and discrimination. It’s very unfair how we are treated considering that we are all humans searching for a better life,” Acosta said.

If events like this can positively impact the future of East immigrant students, and all immigrant students in Wisconsin, group leaders say they plan to continue the May Day march tradition in the future. 

“These marches will provide us with possibilities such as leadership skills and educational opportunities,” Alvardo Reyes said.