What happened to the once spirited and well-attended national May Day rallies that put a media spotlight on demands for immigration reform? This year there were pitiful few flag wavers and virtually no news coverage.
Where is the single-minded, relentless leadership that 11 million undocumented Americans need? Who or what will pull together all the immigration groups, labor coalitions, civil rights organizations and student associations and turn them into one powerful force to be reckoned with? Who will overcome the interminable intimidation that has coagulated into what feels like fearful complacency? Now that Hillary Clinton has boldly outlined a path to citizenship in her presidential platform, where are the other champions echoing her call?
The goal of UnitedWeStay is not just to ask these questions but to find answers, to act as a catalyst for forging the power of 11 million undocumented Americans – to be a showcase for our inspiring stories, to raise a platform for the voices of those of us who’ve been silent too long.
And, most importantly, to galvanize hearts, rekindle determination and leverage influence over lawmakers.
In February U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling on behalf of 26 states granted a preliminary injunction against President Obama’s executive action to shield five million from deportation. And while this ruling winds his way through the appeals process, all our lives are put on hold. More uncertainty.
But this uncertainty is different from all the years of living in fearful suspension because we had such hope after DACA and DAPA. Even after the Dream Act failed to become law and immigration reform passed in the Senate and was not even brought up for a vote in the House. Finally, with DACA and DAPA, we had some relief, some sense of forward progress, palatable hope that is now being throttled in the courts. Many of us are afraid to exhale, much less speak up.
The 11 million undocumented Americans in this country have mostly been invisible for far too long. Now it seems we have also been totally silenced by fear and uncertainty. We have long known that few see us for who we are, but we certainly see ourselves as a vital part of the country’s fabric, working for our families and community.
Despite the constant reminders of our “otherness,” we had hope of acceptance if we just waited long enough, worked hard and petitioned our lawmakers. But now we certainly must realize that hope is slipping away as we fail to show up, to speak up and now to “share up” on UnitedWeStay.org and our Facebook page.
We were 10% of the vote in the last presidential race and we made a critical difference, but we failed to show up for the 2014 elections and let more anti-immigration legislators come to power. What will it take to stir our longing into action, fear into resolve, political promises into law? We alone hold the answers. Make UnitedWeStay the place to post our stories, ideas, events, voter registration efforts and profiles in courage. If we’re tired of nothing being done, then we must do something. If we want to do more than dream, then being united in our demand for justice is how we get to stay.