SUNLAND PARK, NM – I attended the Solidarity Prayer Service held September 7 here at the border fence that separates Mexico from the U.S. at end of Anapra Road organized by local catholic churches. Marchers came to both sides of the fence.
It was heart wrenching to see the small children standing at the fence. They told me they hoped to be able to come to El Paso one day.
We should be building bridges not walls. Our border at the present time is a wounded place. I know what immigrants feel as they stare across the line because I am one of them. My family came from Spain hundreds of years ago and later to the U.S. from Mexico.
As I heard testimonies of those trying to change their lives by coming across, their stories reminded me that there is an element of discrimination in the current debate on immigration reform. Discrimination has been going on here for as long as I can remember and I personally witnessed it as a young child.
My family and I were traveling to Six Flags in Arlington Texas one summer.
We had been traveling all-night and decided to stop and rest at a camping ground. To my surprise an officer approached my parents and ordered them to move out a.s.a.p. Their reason, it was not a camping ground. EXCUSE ME there were several vehicles parked. But again, we were the only Hispanics there. I was under the assumption that things had changed by the 1970’s.
Apparently not much has changed. I was in Washington D.C. for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s march and I was able to be part of the historical event. I stood near where he stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial and made the great “I have a dream.” speech that would change a nation.
The march – which called for political and economic rights for African-Americans – drew between 200,000 and 300,000 people. It is considered a major turning point in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
A few months before delivering his speech, King was in jail in Birmingham, Ala. following his arrest for nonviolently protesting racism and racial segregation. While in jail, King wrote that people had the moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
As I processed the Anapra event, I realized that people from El Paso still have a lot of obstacles to overcome; yet we are not alone. People came from different states to participate at the prayer service.
I spoke to three young women in their early twenties who were passionate about helping with the immigration reform bill now being debated in the U.S Congress. They came to here to work at the homeless shelter for immigrants and migrants facing deportation.
We still have a lot of work ahead of us to make this overdue American dream a reality for all not just a few. Now that we have more political clout, we Hispanics need to make ourselves heard.