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Movimiento Cosecha Finishes 300 Mile 'Walk For Licenses' For Undocumented Hoosiers

Movimiento Cosecha Indiana

Members of Movimiento Cosecha Indiana march along the White River in Indianapolis, demanding driver's licenses for undocumented Hoosiers. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Movimiento Cosecha Indiana marched 300 miles across the state, from Gary to Clarksville, to advocate for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The march stopped in 11 cities as an homage to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

The group wants lawmakers to reverse policies that bar undocumented immigrants from getting driver’s licenses. 

Indiana passed a law in 2007 which tied driver’s licenses, permits and vehicle registration to citizenship and immigration status – aligning with 2005 federal legislation

Dara Marquez, a field organizer for Movimiento Cosecha Indiana, said these policies target the ability of undocumented immigrants to function in their communities.

"And in the state of Indiana, the first step that this state can take ... is to push for a driver’s license or a bill that will be able grant the undocumented community to be able to drive without fear," Marquez said.

She said undocumented Hoosiers have built lives in Indiana – and the state needs to start acknowledging that.

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Danni Lerma, an organizer with Movimiento Cosecha, said the walk started at the Gary Airport because of its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said many of the undocumented Hoosiers who have been deported were detained for driving without a license.

Lerma said that creates a lot of fear. His parents are undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. when he was 5.

"We could literally be kicked out of a home that we have been in for years. For more than 20 plus years, more than 10 years. And that is a fear that I just don’t want people to have," he said.

Several organizers and volunteers walked in each city along the 300-mile march, including Dominga Cortes, an undocumented Hoosier and volunteer organizer. She said through a translator that these policies force her entire community to drive without a license – just to satisfy basic needs.

Cortes said she hoped the walk would call attention to the problem affecting Indiana’s estimated 100,000 undocumented Hoosiers.

"Dejarles ver a los gobernantes que el pueblo puede porque no tenemos voto, pero tenemos voz – y somos la mano obrera que sacamos el trabajo adelante," Cortes said. ["Let those in power see that the people can do it because we don't have a vote but we have a voice – and we are the workers who get the job done."]

There were two driving cards bills – license alternatives – introduced during the 2021 legislative session. The House version died without a hearing. The Senate version got a hearing for testimony, but was not voted on.

So far, 16 states and Washington D.C. have passed legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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