This Saturday, 50,000 immigrants and allies in 40 cities participated in the National Day for Immigrant Dignity and Respect. I attended the event in San Francisco and was so moved to see myself surrounded by not only Spanish speakers, but also Indonesian immigrants, Chinese students, and pods of men in yarmulkes and turbans dotting the crowd. Immigration is not only a Latin@ issue, and it’s not only an issue for immigrants. Everyone has a vested interest in creating an immigration system that works for our country and for the people who live in it.
Saturday was just the beginning. Today, thousands more activists are marching on the National Mall to protest an administration that is on track to deport 2 million people by 2014. They are joined by educational, labor and religious organizations. Today, a rabbi is risking arrest for this cause.
In other immigration news, California is awesome (for now) when it comes to fair treatment of undocumented immigrants. Last Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. On Saturday, he signed the Trust Act, which limits cooperation between the state and Secure Communities, a program which allows immigration enforcement to access fingerprints and records of anyone who comes into contact with law enforcement agencies.
Why is this big? Because undocumented people in California may now drive cars legally, without fearing being stopped at any corner. They might also become safer drivers, as they will be required to pass the same driving tests as a citizen to obtain a license. It allows them to be mobile humans within our society. Also, within California, undocumented people may now reach out to the police for help without fearing that they might be deported. Victims of domestic abuse may find it slightly easier to escape harmful situations if they know their immigration status, not just their their emotional and physical safety, is not at risk.
But this can’t stop in California. This is a symbolic step, and other states must follow. If you are in D.C., get yourself to the National Mall. If for nothing else, go because Lila Downs and Los Tigres del Norte are scheduled to play. If you are on Twitter or Instagram, take a photo of yourself with a sign explaining why immigration reform is important to you, and tag it with #TimeisNow.
Immigration reform is not only good for immigrants. It’s good for everyone.
Justice is what love looks like in public. Let’s show some love!