Immigrants and supporters marched through downtown Chelan Thursday in a protest organized through social media and word of mouth. The goal was to demonstrate the importance of immigrants to society and the economy of the Lake Chelan Valley.
The Trump administration has taken a firm stance on immigration reform policies, which has caused fear and dissonance among many immigrant communities across the nation.
“One thing that drives me is hearing my son say that the kids at school are scared and that their parents live in fear,” said Marcella Anaya. Anaya is the owner of Marcella’s Restaurant in downtown Chelan, which closed for the day in support of the cause. “There are employees who work in the orchards and in the apple industry that are afraid of losing their livelihoods.”
Today’s march participants were made up of many cultures and ethnicities sharing one common opinion stated by Anaya, “We are all here as immigrants in one form or another. I wish we could all just live as humans.”
Riverwalk Books in Chelan also closed to show their support of the ‘Day Without Immigrants’ movement. “I am descendent of immigrants myself,” explained owner, Libby Manthey. “My daughter-in-law who is from Australia and has a green card is being marginalized, and I think a lot of people are. I am here to show my support for my community.”
‘A Day Without Immigrants’ movement aimed to show society what the economy and nation would look like without immigrants. Participants in Chelan skipped school and work to join with one another, and others gathered throughout the United States.
In total, nearly 150 marchers participated in the Chelan rally on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Marchers walked from Riverwalk Park, across the Dan Gordon Memorial Bridge, by Chelan High School, over the ‘Old Bridge’ and finally gathered in front of Chelan City Hall to cheer and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Anaya explained that she understands the risks that the government is trying to protect us from but she said, “A lot of the people being affected are not threats.”
When asked how the community might look should it lose immigrants Manthey stated, “We would be very different, but we would also lose a lot of the beautiful culture and vibrancy that makes up our community.”
(By Jillian Foster)