SPOKANE, Wash. – Dozens of marchers moved south from Riverfront Park on Wednesday into the heart of downtown with more momentum than they believe they’ve ever had for immigration reform.
May Day events across the country come just two weeks after a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on the issue. Supporters believe the national debate along with last year’s presidential election will push lawmakers to vote with them.
Lucia Vasquez is an Eastern Washington University student who helped to organize the event. She talked about her personal connection to the issue before the march.
"I have siblings and I have family members and I have friends at EWU and throughout the country that are undocumented," she said.
Spokane hasn’t seen a march like this since 2007 but the cause remains the same for supporters, a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Dr. Martin Garcia is a professor at EWU and he believes the current political climate has brought them closer than ever to new policy.
"The message was sent very clear that immigration is a very important issue for the country and for Latinos particularly," said the professor.
Opponents say the proposed Senate bill would offer amnesty to all those immigrants who came into the country illegally. It’s a criticism that’s been around for years just like these rallies.
Now they have more support in the nation’s capital than organizers have seen in the past and some legislators hope to pass their bill through the Senate in June but the goal for local activists remains the same.
"To get that momentum going,” said Vasquez. “To get people educated about this issue."