While many were out shopping, others of us were holding our first meeting as the Central Jersey Community Coalition, a diverse group of community organizations, including churches and mosques, to address the concern we have over the new administration in Washington. At the community action fair, several hundred people stopped by the tables we had set up with our information. Casa Esperanza was next to the Somerset County Diversity Coalition, a group of faith based organizations and churches seeking to bring understanding of different forms of worship and belief.
We watched the Women’s March in D.C. on a wide screen television; we talked about how to counter the atmosphere of hate and prejudice that seems so prevalent in our country today. Some of the children running around in the church basement were wearing pink Pussy Hats, in tribute to Pussy Riot, the group of women singers who ran afoul of Putin’s sensitive nature – to criticism, that is.
We listened to a young woman who had DACA tell her story of her mother’s struggles, of her own fears, and we all rose to applaud her courage. We heard people call for tolerance – but it was more than just speeches and applause. It was the beginning of our new organizing for tolerance and truth – something sorely lacking in the white House – and we will meet again and begin training for people to run for office, to speak the truth in the face of lies, and to be a voice for the diversity that is in Central New Jersey.
The words of Margaret Mead should be our inspiration: “Never doubt tht a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Call or e-mail us at Casa Esperanza if you want to join this important movement at this a crossroads in American history.
She wanted to travel – to go to Mexico to see her grandmother, but because the time was so close to Donald Trump’s inauguration and the fear of the elimination of her DACA status, she decided it was at least safer to stay home. But what is home to her and to the thousands who had lived here most of their lives, some since infancy?
Her parents talked about Mexico as “mi pais,” my country, but she didn’t think of Mexico as her country. The only thing she really understood about Mexico was that her parents came from there and that a grandmother she barely remembered still lived there.
And how is she to face the future in what may promise to be a terrible time for her and others like her, who were not born “here” but who considered “here” to be home? As she talked about her fears of being deported to a country she did not know and, apart from her grandmother, had no real connections with, she looked at me and asked, “Why do they hate us so much?”
Good question. I have to admit I do not understand the hate, the bullying, the taunting, although it has been part of America’s national history – to our shame. We began to talk about facing the future with resolve rather than fear. Right now, there are about 526,000 cases pending in immigration court, and about 730,000 DACA recipients. Assuming that Trump wipes out DACA and about 600,000 have never been in immigration court, can you imagine what a backlog that will create?
Trump may be able to wipe out DACA but by law everyone is entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge. Facing the future means putting one’s life in order, pulling together documents, and DACA did a lot of that for its recipients already. Many have children and more than ten years in the United States so they can file for status based on the hardship to their children if deported; others have alternative means of continuing not just to stay but to contribute to a more inclusive society.
The future we face may not be as bleak as it first appears. We just need some creative minds with hearts to reach out to those who will be most affected.