As I write this, our motor home, which we have come to refer to as “Rusty” is driving around the RV park, making it hard to type. I keep hearing the distracting sound of the RV alarm as it backs up into our rented space for the night. Felipe, sitting nearby as he checks his email, yells “this noise is killing me” and I laugh. There’s a lot of commotion in the RV and one million and one distractions. It’s just another typical night on the trail.
We now have two additional team members, Grey and Wilfredo. They’re both activists that I’ve known for a while now. I still remember first meeting Grey at a FLIC (Florida Immigrant Coalition) Congress a couple of years back. FLIC Congress occurs once a year, and it’s a congregation of all the pro-migrant organizations in Florida aligned with the values of the coalition. She had just started this student organization known as CHISPAS at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. Despite being a minority in the school, she was determined to be a strong advocate for the passage of the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act. At Congress, Felipe and I were invited by her to come speak at UF in order to share our stories and depict the struggles in the lives of undocumented students. We wanted to develop strong bonds and work to develop a youth network across the state. The FLIC Congress was the beginning of a strong alliance and mutual determination amongst organizations to achieve the passage of the DREAM Act and to provide opportunities for the futures of undocumented youth. The DREAM Act presentation we held at the UF campus encouraged many students to get involved, a couple of which actually walked with us on the trail in Gainesville.
Wilfredo is a Puerto Rican activist, who has participated in several civil disobedience actions throughout his life. In his most recent action, alongside seven others, he was on a fast for 17 days in order to call attention to the injustices of the immigration system that threatened to separate him from his family. It’s truly an honor to have both Grey and Wilfredo on the team, I feel as if the energy on the trail has improved with these new additions.
We spent this past weekend in Wilimgton, NC. We held an extremely important national interview with Univision for the show “Aqui y Ahora”. During the interview, I was able to speak out on how undocumented students continued to get deported, even though that was inconsistent with what the Obama Administration has reiterated many times. The administration has held the position that they’re only going after ‘Criminal Aliens’ when in fact, we’ve personally known of several undocumented students that have been picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in situations such as heading to school.
Leslie’s story, an example of this, whose deportation recently was halted thanks to a nationwide student-led effort, is one of many anecdotes depicting what is occurring due to the failed immigration system of this nation. Leslie was asked for her proof of documentation as she was heading to Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. Not only are bright students getting deported, but also fathers and mothers and children are seeing how immigration agents are tearing their only families apart.
These are only a few injustices of so many committed against undocumented immigrants in this nation. Our walk removes us from feeling any physical pain as we mentally reminisce some of the countless stories we’ve heard on our journey. Many of which remind me of my own personal struggles, especially having a mother battle cancer for over a decade whose mental anguish over our migratory status worsened her condition.
Regardless of the pain living the undocumented life and having aggressive cancer, her resilience was too strong and her determination to raise her children kept her alive for so long, even when the doctors would say otherwise. I firmly believe that there is nothing stronger than the love of a mother for her children.
I walk as her strength lives through me; I walk as the endless cries of over a million undocumented mothers and fathers, echo through my mind. I walk because our broken immigration system needs to recognize its effects on the destruction of our families. It needs to acknowledge our humanity once and for all.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
- The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus
link to http://www.trail2010.org/blog/2010/mar/25/beyond-walk/