Our VoiceImmigration

Street Theater, a Silent Senator, and Dreams

Glenn Hutchinson • Aug 12, 2010

ladylibertyMy Democratic senator is silent about immigration-how about yours?

Even though the worst parts of the Arizona SB 1070 law are temporarily blocked, Republican extremists continue to push anti-immigrant legislation.  Last week, more Republicans called for a repeal of the 14th amendment and birthright citizenship.

But what’s even more disturbing is how many Democrats are silent to this crisis.  Take, for example, my home state and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC).  In June, three young women went on a two week hunger strike near Hagan’s office in Raleigh.  They wanted our senator to support the Dream Act, legislation that would give hope to 1.5 million undocumented young people, many of whom are students.

One of the activists, Rosario Lopez, came to the United States as a minor.  She grew up in this country and it is her home.  Like many, she wants to be a citizen, but Sen. Hagan refuses to help by co-sponsoring the Dream Act.

In my city, we also tried to contact Sen. Hagan and invite her to our rally against the anti-immigrant Arizona SB 1070 law on July 29th.  Since we received no answer, my actor friends and I performed a street theater scene outside her office in Charlotte.

In the play, two characters named A & Z (representing Arizona) arrest three people named “BILL,” “OF,” “RIGHTS” for not having the right papers.  Then Lady Liberty enters and tries to convince Arizona to change its ways.  You can watch our trip to her office on YouTube: “Inviting Senator Hagan.”

As you will see from this video, Lady Liberty issued a formal invitation to Sen. Hagan, and her assistant received it.  However, Sen. Hagan did not come, and her office did not send a representative to our rally to listen to our play and speeches.  Again, Sen. Hagan is silent.

Yes, this past year, Democrats had a full plate-the stimulus package, health care, financial reform, and so on.  However, Pres. Obama has said that it’s a “moral imperative” to fix our broken immigration system.

What can we do?  First of all, we cannot give up.

The North Carolina activists (the Dream team) have formed a website with nine concrete suggestions for action.  Other hunger strikes have taken place, including one in front of Sen. Feinstein’s office.  And over twenty activists staged a sit-in at the Hart Senate Office Building in D.C. last month.  Twelve were arrested, including Rosario, and charged with “disorderly conduct.”  Soon they will be on trial.

We cannot wait for tomorrow.  Millions of people are facing challenges everyday, and they have waited long enough.

Recently, I heard several civil rights activists talk about the sit-ins and marches that took place during the 1960’s.  I marveled at the courage they had fifty years ago.  Would I have been strong enough to do the same?

Then last week, I had the chance to meet the heroes of my own day, 2010: the North Carolina Dream team.  These dedicated young people, and those across the country, should inspire us all to do something.

And someday in the future, maybe we’ll be able to tell this story to our grandchildren.

That we didn’t stay silent.  That we acted.  That we changed.

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