EVERETT — A couple of dozen people walked, waved and chanted along nine blocks in north Everett on Sunday, as they do every month, to make a problem largely unseen here a bit more visible.
On Cinco de Mayo, when people celebrate Mexican culture and independence, taking part in a rally in support of immigrants and refugees was an act of love for some and defiance for others.
“We’re here to ask for a miracle from Our Lady of Guadalupe to free our kids from cages,” Gilberto Salcido said, referring to the U.S. Border Patrol detainment of Central American and South American immigrants and asylum seekers.
Some of Everett’s own community members recently were caught up in the crackdown on undocumented residents. Three members of the Enriquez Olvera family were detained in Arizona by the Border Patrol while they were vacationing there in late March.
Roberto Enriquez and Candelaria Olvera reportedly came to the U.S. on tourist visas and overstayed. The Snohomish family runs Enriquez Tires, a business in Everett that was along the march’s route.
Before the procession began, Liz Vogeli, an organizer and Everett City Council member, said the couple and their son, Irvin Enriquez Olvera, were out of federal custody and home.
“They’re out now, hallelujah,” Vogeli said. “There are plenty of people still there.”
In Snohomish County, about 83,000 of 814,901 residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to a 2018 U.S. Census update. The Pew Research Center estimated 240,000 unauthorized immigrants were in Washington in 2016 and that the change in that population over the previous 10 years was not significant.
Sunday afternoon, the national debate over who gets admitted and who belongs in the U.S. drew families with toddlers and young children and longtime activists. They walked from 18th Street and McDougall Avenue to 19th Street, across Broadway, north to 16th Street and back across Broadway before returning to the parking lot where they first gathered.
The 25 marchers waved handwritten and printed signs with messages common to the issue’s activism across the country: “Families belong together,” “No human is illegal,” “I may fear the weather, but I don’t have to fear deportation,” “Family separation” (crossed out), “Bring our neighbors home,” “Hate has no home here.”
Some in the crowd wore shirts and hats with similar messages: “I will rise up,” “I really do care,” “Make Racism Wrong Again.”
Some chanted, “Love, not hate, makes America great.”
Several passing motorists honked and waved.
Back where they started, the crowd took a moment of silence for detained people who have died in federal custody, for those in trauma from it and for those who fear it.
One man invoked the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, who said it matters when people stand against adversity.
Democratic state Rep. Mike Sells of Everett was at the event.
“This is when we stand up and push back, where people can see us pushing back,” Sells said.