The abuela riding the bus in the early mornings on her way to work, that is my abuela. The young hija hoping to go to school, but cannot continue her education, that is my hija. The young hijo who is looking for work, but will not get hired, that is my hijo.
Despite the cold weather, about 100 people, young and old, documented and undocumented, Hispanic and non-Hispanic, Spanish-only, English-only and Spanglish, students and working folk, gathered to spend time in opposition to the privately-owned holding center for immigrants awaiting deportation. As we held our signs on the dark street corner of 30th and Peoria, a large sign reading TIRES FOR LESS behind us, a number of faces stared from the whirling traffic, cars honked and some people waved or looked plain confused. We gathered for poetry and inspiring words, read both in Spanish and English. From our dark corner we made our way around the block, chanting words like, Immigration is not a crime! Why are people doing time! Once we made it to the back of the detention center we shared with each other how we can help end this injustice experienced by those locked up based on their “papers” and we sang, appropriately, Imagine, loud enough, we hoped, for those inside to hear our supportive words.
I wasn’t entirely sure that this protest, in the dark and without representation of any legislators or owners of the facility, was the most effective way to demand change. There were representatives from the media who will provide a very powerful outlet for getting others involved and the possibility that those in power around this issue will take an extra look at the situation, recognizing that there are people who are upset and willing to fight for the rights of those who are seen as lower than low in regards to their status in the United States.
For me personally, however, I felt as though this was an opportunity to recognize the knowledge I already have of the desperate immigration situation. For that hour, I was standing, presente, with my refugee friends moving without papers from Afghanistan into Europe; I was standing, presente, with the children in deportation hearings I tried to find pro bono legal representation for; I was standing, presente, with the stories we heard during Iliff’s Social Change Praxis on Immigration. For that hour, 100 people were standing, presente, with the thousands of people affected by the disastrous US Immigration policy. From there, we might share our experience with a Facebook status update, by sharing a link or tweeting. From there, we might be able to convince others to get involved or at least think for a second about the humanity that lives among us, that we are all a hijo or hija.