By all rights I should never have gone.

I mean, I am a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP), raised Republican in the context of the Southern Religious Right.

So pray tell, what was I doing last Saturday greeting a bus of undocumented Latino immigrants who came to make their voices heard at the site of the 2012 National Democratic Convention?

If the “unfriendly” response to a  Charlotte Observer article is to be believed, these folks were nothing more or less than criminals and thieves, as witnessed by the following seemingly common sentiment:

Lock them up, freeze and return return any money they have “earned” to those whose work they stole,send them home and auction off the undocubus.

Send them home.  Indeed.  Just like the calls for similar treatment of a hated minority during my youth.  Back then, we were told to send people who had never been to Africa back to Africa.

So why did I go and meet the bus from Arizona?  I wasn’t sure.  With no affiliation other than being a member of the human race, I just went; felt compelled to go.

Most of these “criminals and thieves” are DREAMers, who have spent almost all of their lives in this country, and speak English in the dialects of their home cities.

David Ramirez, who actually came over to greet me after his arrival, spoke humorously of the first time that he met Latinos from the deep South and who were speaking the Southern version of English.

David is from Chicago, newly graduated from a university that would accept him, and longs for the day when he can use his degree in Mathematics and Economics.  He was kind enough to share his story with a rather awkward 63 year old Anglo who had just shown up from nowhere.

He will qualify for the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” order of President Obama, and plans to fill out the paperwork when he returns to Chicago.  Yet even if deported, he cannot be sent back home to Mexico, for he has no home there. He has been here since he was one year old. In other words, were he to be deported, he would be leaving the only country he has known, and would be banished from (and by) the land of his identity .

“When did you understand the concept of “undocumented’ as more than just an abstraction?”, I asked him. “From the beginning, for as long as I can remember”, he answered, describing his mother’s efforts to shield him from some ever-present threat.

Living in the shadows of fear.  Never quite measuring up to some illusive status always beyond his reach. Yet David and other DREAMers have found their voice.

In an article posted on the NPR website last year, in which David and other DREAMers were featured, Domenic Powell, a spokesman for the North Carolina Dream Team gave context to these indocumentos‘ decision to go public and vocal.

“Here is a generation of young people who have grown up, assimilated, become American in every way but their immigration status who were being told not to speak up, not to take a stand against this problem that directly affects them.”

So yes.  They are without papers.  Yet maybe for the first time in their lives are without fear!

¡Sin Papeles!  Sin Miedo!


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I Went Anyway… — 1 Comment

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