An organizer yells, “Sí, se puede!” over a loudspeaker, and cheers erupt. Before the crowd takes off, marching from Commercial Center on Sahara and Maryland to the federal courthouse on Las Vegas Boulevard, community members pass out handmade signs and rally for a round of speeches.
The annual march on May 1 is part of an international event called May Day, organized by immigration activists known as the May 1st Coalition. This year, in the wake of the Baltimore riots, the coalition widened its focus to include the Black Lives Matter movement, the LGBT movement and other marginalized communities.
“What’s happened with Baltimore with the riots [and] police brutality—the same thing is happening with the immigrant community,” Rafael Lopez, 26, says. Like thousands of other undocumented parents, Lopez’s qualified for DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) but haven’t been able to apply since Attorney General Adam Laxalt added Nevada to the list of states filing a federal lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s executive order.
“I would like to see my dad for once,” adds 15-year-old high school student Nohemi Ochoa Ruano. It’s been two years since she’s seen her father, who lives in Mexico. “If you think about it, we’re all immigrants. White folk came from Europe, so they’re European immigrants.”
Laura Martin, communications manager of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, reflects: “It is a testament to the greed and the disconnect between politicians like Adam Laxalt who don’t see immigrants as human beings. ... It’s not amnesty, it’s [an] opportunity to fix the system. Right now there is no line, there is no way to apply. It’s just get out or hide in the shadows—so that’s what we want to fix.”