Why I'm Riding to Charlotte

In six weeks I will arrive in Charlotte accompanied by a full bus of other undocumented people, after visiting with immigrant communities who face discrimination, supporting their efforts to affirm their dignity and no longer be afraid.

Like many others, I’m tired of living in fear. I’ve lived here for 18 years but didn’t get involved until Gov. Jan Brewer signed Arizona’s SB1070 in 2010. At that point, I knew that something had to be done.

When I first came here in 1994, families could go to the store or the park without looking over their shoulders. Now the parks in our neighborhoods have police cars just monitoring us. Even at the church where I give food to the hungry, there are fewer people because of the intimidation they feel from nearby law enforcement who have been turned into immigration agents.

That sense of intimidation is spreading. A mother at the school my three children go to was told by a school employee they were going to have her deported. Everywhere we go now, we find harassment. It feels like everyone is looking and pointing at you just because you’re brown.

That environment is what drove me to get involved in my community. Now we’re teaching undocumented people that they have rights and we can come together to get our loved ones and neighbors out of immigration detention centers. In Arizona, we’ve learned that there’s no reason to be afraid when our community is united.

I know in my heart that something has to change and that undocumented people like myself are going to be the ones to do it. We just want to work and have a better life like anyone. Because of anti-immigrant state laws and federal programs, that isn’t an option right now.

We’re standing up to sheriffs like Arizona’s Joe Arpaio and getting on a bus for a “No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice” that was to leave Phoenix this past weekend and will end at the Democratic National Convention in September.

We’ll confront our fears and we’ll do peaceful civil disobedience at risk of being separated from our families to open our community’s eyes and to open the hearts of those who may not know what is happening to us.

We’ll come to Charlotte where we hope the president will be inspired by our example of courage. He has shown that he has the power to relieve our suffering. We’re doing what we must for our children to have better lives and for those of us who have lived in the shadows to finally be included fully in this country. We hope those who have the power to make that happen will do more to make it real.

Originally Published in the Charlotte Observer on July 30, 2012.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/07/30/3410856/why-im-riding-bus-full-of-undocumented.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

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