Immigrant-rights advocates gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Monday afternoon to kick off the state’s Immigrant Heritage Week, a celebration declared by Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this month.
Guadalupe Pimentel, vice president of the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance, said her organization asked the governor for the proclamation to recognize the “generations of immigrants from every corner of the globe (who) have built our country’s economy and created the unique character of our nation.”
“We didn’t really think that we’d get it because of the history of anti-immigrant legislation in the state,” said Pimentel, citing a state law that prohibits undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition. “To us, it’s a huge step forward.”
Immigrant Heritage Week, which is celebrated in several other states, comes as immigrant-rights issues are thrust into the national spotlight. Last week President Donald Trump reversed course on a policy that separated children from families after they are detained crossing the U.S. border illegally. The policy, which was in place for just under a month, separated more than 2,000 children from their parents at the border.
“Hoosier hospitality is not just a slogan, it’s a value,” said Nick Torres, a volunteer at Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance. “We value Hoosier family unification. We oppose the separation of families, whether it’s across the country, on the border or in the state of Indiana. Hoosier hospitality means that we keep families together.”