By H. Esparza
The immigrant rights movement has not only been divided nationally but it is being stalled by local threats created by the usual haters, conservative hate and liberal inaction. Washington’s lethargy and outright betrayal to heed the call of the people for an immigration reform that is humane and comprehensive, whether by itself or by steps as it was through the earlier versions of the Dream Act, have given the conservative, anti-migrant movement the time to consummate their plans. These plans are aimed to attack the national immigrant’s rights movement by attrition and by planting fear in our communities with laws that will continue the worst characteristics of our country: racism and the exploitation of the poor. These plans are the spawns of SB1070 (Senserbrener / Proposition 187) being birthed by the headless-chicken that is the anti-migrant movement throughout the nation. From Florida, South Carolina, Maine and Rhode Island to Virginia’s bill that seeks to bar undocumented students from entering college in the state, to Mississippi’s SB 2179. This last offspring of hate, SB 2179, according to ColorLines, allows law enforcement officers to stop any person who is stopped for violating traffic laws to check for “secondary status, and makes it a state crime to be caught without immigration papers and allows law enforcement to arrest, “without warrant,” a person “reasonably believed” to be in the country without papers.” Fortunately according to the Washington Post, the hundreds of anti-immigration bills that have been introduced around the country since the beginning of the year have lost momentum due to the ludicrous amounts of money that could be spent by cities or states in order to push these bills or by the lawsuits that would come thereafter. Nonetheless, as we already know these bills do have an impact in our communities, which is to create terror and the perpetuation of hatred against immigrant communities, or in other words political terrorism. In the midst of all of this where are we as undocumented youth and allies?
We as undocumented youth & allies continue to stand on the side of democracy, on the side of U.S. democracy because by denouncing the shortcomings and injustice committed against us by the United States is not a sign of rejection but a sign that we have decided to take this country seriously. We are a clear reminder to the rest of the country and the world that our democracy in the U.S. is limited and exclusive. We, as others before us, are pushing this democracy because we believe in its potential to be more inclusive, but most of all, to be real and not just a word thrown around by pseudo-patriots. In our democracy justice and freedom for all are not only words that can adorn speeches or deafened even more those who can only conceive a small, homogenous democracy and democratic process. In our democracy, justice and freedom for all are extended to others not as a privilege, but as a right that can have many voices and even deal with its own messiness. This conviction is what brings hope to our struggle, for we know that any attack or advance on our cause for immigration rights is either a progress and/or a drawback directly to our democracy. Any advance, as small as it may seem, is an advance directly to our democracy.
For this reason, we know that our movement is bigger than the rights we desperately need and want for the 12 million undocumented in the country. Our movement will determine the very fiber of this country, and the quality of its democracy. Most of all, we are testing whether or not this ideal means anything at all to the public and to public officials. For this reason, our fight is necessary for the well being of the entire country. This is what makes it so important for us to continue our struggle more than ever. The same struggle that the critics say has dwindled or that is too fractioned to push forward. This struggle has made us go beyond what we expected. The same struggle has been the mirror of the greatness and fearlessness that has been in us and was waiting to come out in righteous anger. This righteous anger is what gave life to the infamous chant and attitude of “Undocumented, Unafraid!” I call it infamous because in the ear of our enemies, those who want to deport our families and ourselves, those who want to use us to benefit their organizations but will not stand behind us when it comes to challenging the law, this chant is like a tooth-ache that does and will go away. Undocumented and Unafraid is the collective sentiment from our fathers, mothers, grandparents, friends, and allies who come out of the shadows every day just to survive. This is the feeling that we felt as we took on the streets a year ago. This is the feeling that took us to Washington to be arrested. This is the feeling that has helped us deal with the frustration of another year of unfulfilled promises by cowards in Washington. Undocumented & Unafraid is the feeling and attitude that will take us to victory! Advancing our democracy is always a victory!
I write this under the inspiration that the people of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, but most of all under the inspiration of the brave youth in our movement. We have not only made history but we have changed history in the past year. In that same spirit I say to all those who have lost hope and to those that do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, we have been in worst situations and look at where we stand today. We were silence once but now we shout out! We were too afraid once but now we can act with courage. We felt alienated once but now are part of something bigger than our movement. We know that our movement is one that knows how to get up, regroup and organize. Our movement is one that knows how to fight. This March 10, yet again, we will impact the movement and our democracy by calling it to fight! This simple and yet necessary reminder will be a call of commitment to what we have already been doing! We have waged a campaign to not let a loud-minority, the anti-immigrant cluster, hijack the potential of our democracy. More than ever we need to bring the fight where we are at. We know that the next two years will be barren for our movement in White House. The Obama Administration will not touch the subject of immigration for they are in re-election mode; however, we know that our communities will not and cannot be subject to the political calendar. For this reason, we need to bring the fight where we are at. Our fight cannot cease more than ever our fight must keep our demands on the minds of our community. We must continue to organize and create our own resources that will enable us to push forward and disseminate the attitude and feeling that drove us from the shadows and into the streets a year ago. Now we do it with the same passion and with more maturity calling on the movement and to all people of good-will to fight where they are.