At the Border Issues fair (January 14, 2017) at the UCC Church of the Good Shepherd in Sahuarita, Arizona Margo Cowan, Pima County Public Defender who has helped hundreds of undocumented Dreamers to get DACA - permission to study, obtain driver's licenses and work, challenged us to become Voceros or spokespeople in our communities. She helped start Keep Tucson Together that sponsors weekly legal clinics and a movement to grant identity cards to all Tucsonians. "There is no them or us, she said, only US!"
How can we be voceros? We need to reframe the public discussion on immigration. There are other ways that we can be welcoming communities - Think of Germany that has welcomed and integrated one million refugees this past year. Governments have the power to determine how people will be received. Germany created 100,000 new jobs for immigrants in 2016 - they see the new immigrants contributing to the growth of their economy!
Where is our imagination? This past Sunday during the women's march (Tucson) one of the chants was "Refugees and Immigrants are Welcome here!" That is being a vocero! At the Saturday rally outside City Hall in Tucson we were demanding that Tucson become a Sanctuary City offering safe haven to all its residents.
Poster at the Sanctuary Rally Tucson, AZ - 01/20/17
Be persistent! Look at the courage of the Dreamers who came out of the shadows and said that we have the right to be here in the United States - our parents brought us when we were little. Never underestimate the power and resilience of immigrant communities. US Senators Jeff Flake and Lindsay Graham have introduced the Bridge Act which would provide an extended reprieve from deportation to Dreamers.
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are promoting the so-called Bridge Act, which would allow at least 740,000 young immigrants who have gotten deportation reprieves and work permits under Obama to keep those benefits for three more years if they are revoked. (Source: Politico, 12/16/2016)
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?