“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.” –Patrick Overton (poems)
When I came back from the action last Monday March 24th at Gadsden, Alabama, I took this picture and posted in facebook, because I was really touched by the many signs these people who were incarcerated were placing in the windows of the detention centre. I though to myself, this is the reason why these people risk being arrested and even been deported, to be able to stop this non-sense attitude against these hard working families who are giving more to this country than what the media and the “haters” are saying.
It is so humble to know that an image can touch so many, an image I decided to take in one moment, a moment that made me stop and see what was happening, but let me be clear here, I was not the only one who took this picture, there were others who also were able to capture this. I was just the first one who placed it on line with this message: “While we were outside waiting for our compañeros to come out from the detention centre I was able to shoot this picture. This is a message from people inside to all of us. A reminder of what is to be separated from your families, “We Miss Our Kids” it reads. Lets remember that there are approximately 30,000 people in detention tonight. A powerful message. (There was another sign that says “Thank You”)”.
So do not give me all the credit, give the credit to every single person who participated in this action, for the Etowah7 and all the organizers, staff, and volunteers of ACIJ, for the families of the arrestees who were there waiting for their families to come out of the detention centre, for working with a badass organizer as Kyle Wilson Tharp, it has been a privilege to be working besides him. I never expected the picture to go viral that fast specially when Catalina Nieto from Detention Watch Network and United We Dream got it.
The only thing that this picture says is this: Undocumented immigrants contributes to our economy more than what they take away. Stop using them as a scapegoats to our own problems. We are talking about families here, fathers. mothers, sisters, brothers, children who are separated just because they do not have a small paper card with 9 digits. Lets start speaking the truth instead of listening to the agenda of the many who are against United States becoming a country where diversity is part of our DNA. Lets stop the deportation machinery that is enriching the so called 1%. Let’s stop and listen to what is happening all over United States, but specially in the south. El Sur también existe.
When I am asked why did I move to Alabama? I always answer this:
Alabama is the front line of immigrant’s rights, voters’ rights, LGTBQ rights, and workers rights. This is a place to be if you want to be a soldier for social justice.
The American farm worker and labor leader César Chavez said, “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”
We need to start looking the issue of immigration reform not only as a legal issue but also as a people’s stories. Being an undocumented worker in a red state, specially here in Alabama where one of the worst anti-immigrant laws was borne, means that fears reigns in their daily life, always wondering that may be this day could be the last day among their love ones, because they can be detained driving while brown. It means that Roberto a honor student in high school, who came into this country when he was 2 years old brought by his parents could be detained as well for not having a drivers license, and send to a detention center handcuffed as a criminal instead of just giving him a ticket. It means that complete families are being diving daily because the Department of Homeland Security needs to fulfil the quota of 400,000 people to be deported a year. It means that abusive employers can steal your wages, and threat you to call immigration if you report them.
SB1070 in Arizona, and HB56 in Alabama are examples of the anti-immigrant narrative we keep hearing in this country. They are sold as laws that will help our economy, but in reality they are hurting us. We are known, not for being a welcoming state. Last year we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement, and we found ourselves again discriminating against the one who are considered people of color.
We are talking about families, about people.
“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” –Will Rogers