A group of immigrant rights activists chanted “Si Se Puede” (yes you can) on Monday in downtown Yakima, calling on the Biden administration to keep its promise to immigrants.
About 40 people gathered at the Millennium Plaza, where a table was set up with a notice board and markers for those in attendance to sign for the rally.
Host Rafael Aguilar said there are 11 million immigrants waiting for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to keep their campaign promise: a path to citizenship.
“Stop, promote and hope we can change things,” he said before the start of the rally. “It’s good for them, for their families and for the whole country.
The event, hosted by Seattle-based OneAmerica and the Washington Immigration Solidarity Network, drew Yakima City Council member Kay Funk and Yakima City Council candidate Danny Herrera.
The rally was among several organized across the state on Monday.
Before launching, organizer Audel Ramirez paid tribute to the indigenous people of the region, the Yakama nation.
He noted the nation’s original territory that once covered much of the state.
“Today we have the Aboriginal people who are tied to this land… who have lived here and continue to live here from time immemorial,” he said.
Young people and children gathered around a table to write their messages on notice boards.
The signs read “Home is here”, “Families belong together” and “No human is illegal”.
Karla Ruelas from Sunnyside brought her 5-year-old twins, Zayrs and Zayden, to the rally.
She is the Leadership Coordinator at Nuestra Casa, an organization that aims to empower immigrant women and strengthen families in Sunnyside.
“Our mission is to support immigrants,” she said. “It means a lot to us. We have waited so long for immigration reform.
Glancing at the turnout, she said: “It’s a good start. Others will be planned.
Also in attendance was Dori Peralta-Baker, a member of the Filipino-American community in the Yakima Valley. She said there are 28,000 Asian Pacific Islanders in the United States under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
The federal program allows immigrants who were brought here as children to go to school or work without fear of deportation.
“That’s why we’re here,” she said.
Aguilar urged his supporters to write to federal lawmakers and the Biden administration to provide a path to citizenship. He also encouraged people to register to vote.
“It’s power,” he told the crowd. “As a community, we can make a difference. We can’t wait for someone else to do something. We are the difference, ”he said.
“It’s not just another rally,” she said. “This is a promise made by our administration. I think it’s good that people stand up and hold them accountable.
Ramirez said immigrants must keep the pressure on the administration.
“That’s the whole thing about pressuring them to keep the promise they made during their campaign,” he said. “Now they have to remember the 11 million (immigrants) who are waiting for citizenship.”
More events are planned, he said, including a virtual rally on October 21.
“All over the state there is a lot of action going on,” he said. “It’s not the end – it’s just a kickoff.”