About 40 people marched through downtown Spokane Tuesday afternoon pressing Democrats to lead the way in granting permanent relief and protection for undocumented people in the U.S.
The immigration rally was one of 10 held Monday and Tuesday across the state .
Martin Martinez-Negrete led the Spokane march, which started on a North Post Street sidewalk outside Washington Sen. Patty Murray’s office.
“We need U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to show their leadership, come out publicly and push the Democrats to keep prioritizing immigration,” Martinez-Negrete told the crowd.
Cantwell and Murray are both Washington Democrats.
Last month, Democrats asked the Senate parliamentarian to review a package of reforms that would have given lawful permanent residence to millions of people without legal status. The parliamentarian rejected those reforms as outside the scope of a reconciliation bill.
Martinez-Negrete said he is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and was deported when he was 15 but returned to the U.S.
“After they separated me from my family, I never thought I was going to see them again,” he said.
He said Democrats need to keep fighting – since he said Republicans won’t – for citizenship and immigration reform that they’ve been promising for years.
“How many people need to be deported?” Martinez-Negrete said. “How many people need to be in cages … so that they understand that this is a priority?”
Martin Navarrete-Contreras said before the march that he had the privilege of being born in the U.S., but many of his friends and family members are undocumented.
“I’m out here advocating for them, and, you know, just hoping that we can get something going and making it better, I guess for all of us,” he said.
Jocelyn Granados, a Washington State University student who made the trek from Pullman, told the crowd she immigrated to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. But at any moment, she and her parents can be deported.
“We need actual citizenship now,” she said.
The immigration activists yelled chants like, “What do we want? Citizenship. When do we want it? Now” and, “Congress, congress, keep your promise. Stop being so dishonest.” Some people held signs that said “Citizenship for all!” in English and Spanish.
OneAmerica and Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, which are immigrant and refugee advocacy groups, spearheaded the rallies across the state.