Comprehensive Immigration Reform: The Moment Is Ripe for Justice

It was 3:30 pm on April 10th, I was walking towards the US Capitol to join a roaring crowd yelling out “the time is now.”  I could hear their voices from ten blocks away.  A lump formed in my throat and I began to cry. 

On April 10th, immigrant rights organizations called for a National Day of Action. Rallies and marches happened all over the US. I had the chance to be at the rally in DC. Thousands gathered to demand an end to deportations and detentions. Their eager demand for “justice now” touched deeply my own immigrant heart.

What’s So Threatening About Speaking Spanish?

When I crossed the US border at age 14, I didn’t know that my life in a new country would make me an outsider. From very early on since our arrival, my brother and I learned that we didn’t belong in the US.

We had to be careful when speaking Spanish at school.  Communicating in the only language we knew was banned. Teachers and classmates would remind us that we were in the US now and that we needed to speak English. “If you want to speak your language, go back to where you came from,” we were told with quite some frequency.

I couldn’t understand what was so threatening about speaking Spanish, and I couldn’t understand why the world around me kept trying to erase who I was, a Salvadoran immigrant. I do not know how my brother and I kept advancing through school when little was expected of two brown immigrant kids with heavy accents. However, we kept pushing ourselves and our capacity to reach dreams.

11 Million, No Less

The anti-immigrant sentiment and laws that have permeated the political discourse in recent years have led many to wake up. Immigrants are not alone in their fight. They have become part of their communities across the US. They are raising families of US-born children. They are exercising their voting power and deciding elections, thus, turning conservatives into “allies.”

A Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill was unveiled today by a bi-partisan group of eight senators – the so-called “Gang of Eight.” The bill makes the path to citizenship possible for millions, but it includes high fines, goals for more border enforcement, and a ten-year wait to apply for a green card for most applicants. 

The bill also makes special concessions for some groups, including farmers and high skilled technology workers. Members of the immigrant community need to remain vigilant not to be pitted against each other in order to get a seat at the table. Our demand needs to continue to be inclusive: 11 million, no less.

The Time Is Now for Immigration Reform

At the DC Rally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, I was reminded of that deep resolution that lives in the soul of every human being who claims their dignity and visibility no matter where they are on the planet.

Maybe that’s why I was moved to tears – because I could feel the time is ripe for justice to be done, and for people to belong in the country they have made their own. 

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