I stopped back in DC to attend the immigration reform rally on the mall, watching the space in front of the Capitol fill with people in almost 90 degree heat.
I took the dogs, and we eventually found a spot in the shadows after cooling down in the pond in front of the Capitol. It really was almost heat shock for us coming down from New York.
I started to cry as I watched all of these young men and women, some of whom cannot have families because their situation is so unstable, and yet others whose families are ripped apart by immigration policies. There was definitely more than one voice in the crowd.
Many waved American flags, but there were also other Latin American and African flags in the group. Many school buses arrived, in addition to chartered buses from all over the country. My dogs were the only dogs, but they were welcomed.
Where does reform start? Like the Holocaust where the Jewish people were segregated into hiding places, living in constant fear that a door bell ring might signal the break up of their family and deportation to a “detention facility”, the undocumented also live with this experience.
They also face the segregation that accompanies giving one group of people one status, while disenfranchising the other group. Although they don’t wear a Jewish star, their lack of identity papers makes housing difficult, and, for many, sometimes simply the color of their skin makes them a target.
My voice in this protest is for stable housing for the undocumented, medical care when it is needed, education, decent working conditions, travel/border privileges (basically, if one is over here, and one crosses the border to go back, one should be granted a pass that allows one to return) and preservation of family structures.
Apart from language and culture, I have learned a lot from working with the undocumented. How to solve problems efficiently and with respect for the environment, how to take some responsibility for your own health.
Many of the undocumented came here the hard way.