INside Story

‘No human can ever be illegal’: Group marches 300 miles to demand driver’s licenses for undocumented Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana immigrants marched hundreds of miles in heat and rain to demand changes to how the state provides access to driver’s licenses.

Protesters marched from South Bend to Indianapolis as part of a demonstration to demand access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Dominga Cortez is an undocumented immigrant demanding driver’s licenses. Two weeks ago, she took part in the 300-mile march to Indianapolis with Cosecha Indiana, an advocacy group that fights for the permanent protection for millions of undocumented immigrants in the country.

In 2007, Indiana passed a law that tied driver’s licenses, permits and vehicle registration to citizenship and immigration status. Earlier this year, legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driving cards was introduced in the Indiana House and Senate. That legislation did not pass.

Cortez says the city of Indianapolis needs to listen to them and that they’re fighting for a basic necessity. These immigrants say they want freedom to drive without fear of arrest.

That was the reason behind the walk that started July 10 in Gary and East Chicago. Protesters marched through South Bend, Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Logansport and Lafayette. Despite the rain and 95-degree heat, each step forward meant something greater than themselves.

“We believe that the power is with the people, so for us to be able to grow, empower and educate our fellow immigrant brothers and sisters in the state, I think was worth it,” Danni Lerma, an Indianapolis resident.

Cortez says the fight isn’t going to end, and she and others will do whatever it takes to bring change.

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