Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Story Time in Arizona: Four Heroes & You


Glenn Hutchinson • Jun 04, 2010

glenn_blogpicEveryone needs to listen to the stories of undocumented students, including Sheriff Arpaio.

This year, four students walked 1500 miles from Miami to Washington D.C. to raise awareness about the stories of young immigrants. And this week, they continued their “Trail of Dreams” journey to meet with the Arizona law enforcement official who has gained national attention for his harsh handling of immigrants.

They are four college students from Florida: Felipe, Gaby, Carlos, and Juan. All four know first-hand the realities of living without documentation. All four came here when they were children with their families. They grew up in the States and want to pursue their education. Because of their immigration status, their college aspirations are limited and they are threatened with the possibility of deportation.

So last Tuesday, they met with Sheriff Arpaio to share their stories in hopes that he will change his treatment of immigrants in Arizona and support immigration reform.

Will their stories change the Sheriff’s mind? Will such stories change Congress and urge them to act?

When a Quinnipiac University survey states that 51% of Americans favor the Arizona SB 1070 law, it is sometimes hard to remain hopeful.

However, as more people become aware of the extreme, racist groups, such as FAIR, who are behind such anti-immigration laws, then more of us can learn something from the stories of Felipe, Gaby, Carlos, Juan, and others.

As they made their journey from Miami to D.C., I had the pleasure of meeting these students at an immigration rally in my hometown, Charlotte, NC last April. As a group of us walked through downtown, Felipe and I carried a casket for 287(g), the program that allows local police to enforce immigration law and deport thousands of people for minor traffic offenses.

As I listened to their stories, I learned about four young people who have dreams of being a teacher, a music therapist for autistic children, an engineer, and an architect.

I learned about Carlos who came to the United States when he was two years old and then lost his mother to cancer ten years later.

I learned about Gaby who saw immigration officials raid her family’s home.

I learned about Juan, who now has legal residence, but heroically works to help other immigrants who aren’t as fortunate.

Many of us have different views about immigration, and it’s difficult sometimes for people to listen to one another. Today’s headline says “little progress is made” between President Obama and Gov. Brewer of Arizona when they met yesterday to discuss immigration law.

And when you read many of the online comments to newspapers, it’s easy to believe we are a nation of hate.

But I choose to believe in the better part of our natures, America. Most of us are not like the white supremacist groups who helped write the Arizona law. America is a place where Felipe, Gaby, Carlos, Juan, and many others should have a chance to pursue their dreams.

So, maybe you don’t agree with me, but have you taken a moment to listen to their stories? Have you taken a moment to turn away from the hateful words echoing from Arizona across our country?

Have you taken a moment to listen?

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