By Amanda Huber MSW Candidate
On April 10th, 2013, thousands of people from across the nation rallied in Washington, DC for the “Time is Now” Immigration Rally. I embarked on this journey with a local organizing group, El Pueblo, out of Raleigh, North Carolina. We piled into three buses on a Wednesday morning on ride for a total of 10 hours to a 4 hour demonstration. At the demonstration, I met amazing individuals, organizers, students, and professionals with the common goal of advocating for the people. Passionate people who are directly affected by the social policy of immigration reform, as well as people who are indirectly affiliated with reform and reform movements. Once the group arrived in DC, we came in contact with an array of people from across the country. We also begin meeting people without documents who took the calculated risk to attend this event from places like Los Angeles, San Antonio, Palm Beach and Pennsylvania.
The political voices that were shared were that of allies, priests, lawyers, congress men and women. Some were first generation and second generation immigrants whom all of which engaged in dialogue to collaborate and advocate for a better quality of life for all immigrants. I met a first generation immigrant who recently received his green card, and his name was Alejandro. Alejandro is 25 years old, and he came to this country when he was 6 years old with his family. Although Alejandro has his papers now, he is still fighting and advocating for his father who still lives in this country under the constant fear of deportation because of his status. In our meeting, he shared insights about growing up Latino and the struggles he had faced without papers.
“I would like to be my name, Alejandro”
Alejandro discusses the focus on having a social security number. The United States places a lot of value on that piece of paper as it is the easiest proof anyone can use to prove their citizenship. I asked Alejandro several questions, and we spoke at length about reform and why he came out to DC for the rally. Alejandro replied, “It is not right the way we are treated for a little piece of paper, that’s my opinion. Everyone is a human being, but we are put in a prison, but not a prison”. When I asked for clarity he explained “we have no freedom, I see it with my mother and father, and they cannot leave the house to go out because the police set up checkpoint to check licenses in Spanish neighborhoods.” He proceeded to talk about the level of anxiety he felt growing up and not having papers. Alejandro talked about the fear of wondering what took his mother so long at the grocery store, and constantly waiting up with an ear toward the door for her to walk in. His words relayed the constant anxiety and fear that she may have been stopped by the police and sent into custody by immigration enforcement.
This is the real human battle and struggle immigrants are having to face as a result of the social policies enacted and enforced by our government. Now, the question is what role will you take in this dialogue?