Undocumented immigrants, immigrants and allies of the community passed through Bloomington Thursday on day six of their seven-day, 300-mile “Walk for Licenses” through Indiana, according to a press release from Cosecha Indiana. The goal of the walk, which started Saturday in Gary, Indiana and East Chicago, is to bring attention to the need for drivers licenses for undocumented Indiana residents, according to the release. The walk will end in Indianapolis on Saturday. Cosecha Indiana, which organized the walk, is a part of a national movement, working towards permanent protection, dignity and respect for all immigrant workers, according to their Facebook page The group started in Switchyard Park before marching to Sample Gates and then to the Islamic Center of Bloomington.
Two groups urging state legislators to include a provision that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses have been encamped outside the State House gates since Friday morning, according to organizers. “This will put pressure so all the legislators can hear us and pass this bill,” said Rolando Oliva, an organizer with Cosecha Massachusetts, in Spanish through a translator as he stood outside the State House late Sunday afternoon. “We have been trying to pass this for 15 years now.” The encampment Sunday afternoon included about 10 tents where activists have been sleeping during the night as part of the round-the-clock protest in support of the provision, which organizers say could be added to a racial justice bill currently under debate.
In December, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that will allow undocumented immigrants in the state to legally obtain drivers licenses by 2021. The victory was made possible by hundreds of undocumented organizers, who have been fighting for the bill for 18 years — often putting their bodies on the line and risking deportation in the process.