Saturday, April 12, 2008
"Illegals" or "my friends"? (A guest blogger's insights.)
Well over a year ago in one of my rare appearances at the weekly Friday noon peace vigil downtown, I had the privilege to meet "Border Explorer" and her husband for the first time. Thankfully, it was the beginning of many encounters to follow. I now enjoy the great anticipation I experience each time Mrs. Dada and I have another encounter upcoming with these two.
We are very fortunate to have Border Explorer (BE) and her husband, Paul, here about six months out of the year. They divide their time between El Paso and the midwest. While they are with us they involve themselves in our community by volunteering, studying and exploring border issues. Many people benefit from their efforts.
I know this because I visit BE's travel blog regularly. It gives me a chance to keep up with the wonderful work she and Paul do here in our border area. These are people who not only 'talk the talk,' they 'walk the walk!' We are truly privileged to have them here half of every year.
There are regular visitors to Dada's who appreciate the Southwest and its enhanced richness because of our border with Mexico. Others interested in border issues may enjoy a sampling of BE's blog as well.
I've highlighted a couple herein that, through her visits to the border towns of Columbus, NM and its cross border neighbor, Palomas, Mexico , we get a flavor of the region. Other blog entries reveal BE and Paul's activism and glimpses of border issues.
But I was especially moved by one of BE's latest blog entries. She was kind enough to let me post it here on Dada's as they prepare to leave us soon. Like I said, these folks walk the walk. Here then is the following from...
I am so lucky to be able to assist many poor people in El Paso, among them are the so-called "illegal aliens" so maligned by the media. How can a person be illegal? Who makes those rules? They become my friends and as I prepare to leave in a few weeks, my heart already breaks at the coming separations that await me.
So I want to remember:
...the man who sent all his money to his family in Honduras, then approached me looking stricken because he didn't save back enough money to phone home to assure himself that the money arrived there safely.
...the man about the age of my step-sons who shyly and hopefully suggested to me that perhaps Paul and I would be willing to 'adopt' him to sponsor him as a U.S. citizen.
...the fatherless kids Pedro and Juan who accepted me every week as a sorta-grandmother: throwing kisses, playing patty-cake, and putting on little dramatizations with me much to the amusement of the entire shelter.
...the skinny teen girl who arrived in the middle of the night--raped and traumatized during her migration--saying she was 19 but looking more like 15...and how she invented excuses to hover in my shadow.
...the man battling depression, passing ghost-like with unfocused eyes through the corridors, yet stopping me to say, "I may be sad, but when I see your smile it makes me smile."
...the day two different people at two different times--independently of each other--took me aside to confide: "I don't want to be here illegally. How can I fix this? What can I do?"
And I want to remember how helpless I felt because there is no answer to that question. We don't give them any option. The honest answer would be: "We don't want you to be equals with us citizens. We want you here to do our dirty work."
Very nice. Finally, for a brief but poignant impression of immigration issues, BE shares her insights after attending a recent "Justice for Immigrants" seminar held just up the road at New Mexico State University. It concludes with BE saying, "I'm discouraged today."