I returned to Portland three weeks ago - it is cool and rainy - a typical Oregon April with intermittent warm and sunny days and the flowers are gorgeous. The Pacific Northwest is so different than the dry desert of Arizona. My friends and activities with migrants seem and are far away. Immigrants are here in the Portland area but are invisible in many ways to the dominant European population. There are Dreamers in Oregon like in other states and a number of local groups working on immigration issues.
Two weeks ago I attended a play written by a Syrian playwright about the refugee crisis of Syrians fleeing their civil war. At a panel after the play a human rights activist, John Lindsay-Poland asked the audience: What would our world look like beyond violence? He challenged us to use our moral imagination. "What would human immigration look like if we "re-imagined" our immigration system? I imagine a country that has a sensible immigration system that permits a flow of migrants from all over the world, especially those who have family in the United States. What do you imagine?
John wrote an interesting article about the children who are fleeing Central America. /uploads/4/3/8/5/43853987/john_lindsayhpcachildren15.docx
A graph from a 4/3/15 article from the Washington Post demonstrates the increase in unaccompanied minor children from Central America. /uploads/4/3/8/5/43853987/ucagraphwp415.docx.
We, the immigrant activist community, are preparing for either a reveral of the Texas judge hold on implementation of the President's executive order on administrative relief, DAPA and DACA, to some 4 million undocumented people. Volunteers,lawyers, immigrant communities - all of us are working on having a document processing system in place and ready to help people file for administrative relief. Next Sunday, May 3 my local United Church of Christ, is celebrating Immigrant Rights Sunday. I will share stories of immigrants I met in Tucson and have invited a young man, a DACA Dreamer to share his story. Then we will collect an offering for scholarships for DACA applicants. The filing fee for deferred action is $465 every two years.
There are so many ways that one can get involved - educate yourself about the issues, write a letter to the editor, read books about migrant journeys but most importantly, Interrupt anti-immigrant statements - ask the person making these statements - do you know any immigrants? What has been your experience with them? And also, tell me your immigrant story or that of your family.
Remember the quote from Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace prize recipient,
You who are so-called illegal aliens must know that no human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?”
Think about it and re-imagine humane immigration world-wide.
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?