Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cinco de Mayo and Immigration

Promise House had a rockin' Cinco de Mayo celebration on Tuesday. Over 300 children, teens, and adults enjoyed music, dance, fabulous food, and inspiration from our Citycouncilwoman Delia Jasso and State Representative Roberto Alonzo.

As I sat enjoying the festivities and visiting with guests, I couldn't help but wonder if near this many people would have come to such a celebration in Arizona? After all, we had several police officers stop by to visit, as well as an officer patrolling our parking lot for safety.

How much fear and loathing the Arizona bill has already caused. How much more it will cause as arrests are made, lawsuits filed, protests continue. How much more polarizing politics will become as each side digs in their heels, blames the other for whatever happens, postures for reporters, and debates, debates, debates. Meanwhile, people suffer. People hide. People become suspicious. People worry. People fear other people.

I don't have an answer to the immigration issue. I just know THIS is NOT it. Promise House welcomes teens and families for services with no questions questions about income, legal or illegal status, ability to pay, or even sometimes where they live. We are so fortunate to have funding that allows us to offer services at no charge to any of our clients; and we just never have asked any of the other questions. Our goal is to embrace whoever needs help.

I worry that even though this is not Arizona, fear may keep people from seeking the help they need. That is so unfortunate. I feel like putting a sign on the door in Spanish saying, "We ask no questions" or let everyone know they are safe with us.

After all, we are here to mitigate suffering, not cause it. I have seen the ramifications of parents being deported with their children left behind. I have seen the trauma caused by teens transported across the border illegally for trafficking. And I have seen first hand the struggle of some of our clients to become do the right thing....and the enormity of the obstacles placed in front of them. We are not a very friendly country to immigrants...period. Even though we ARE a country of immigrants.....go figure.

Honestly, I am ambivalent about the issue. I really see both sides and don't have a solid opinion either way. I just see the suffering and feel the loss and sadness of those who get caught in the web of the issue. That's all.

As I watched all 300 people having such a good time on Tuesday, I was just so grateful that we weren't in Arizona.

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