As I peer out my jet window, I watch the hills, rivers and mountains quickly and effortlessly pass below. I’m riding First Class; free food, snacks, and beverages – almost whatever I want. The best thing is I didn’t pay a thing; I got it because my son works for the airline. In the back of the plane were people much wealthier than I, traveling to a resort vacation with their families, they could have bought this seat. On the other hand I was on the way to visit the families of immigrant friends, no resort for me, but for now I was soaking up the undeserved special treatment.
Looking down I thought of how difficult the journey would be on the ground; winding roads and desolate terrain make hard the journey for those who traverse the same ground I was rapidly covering. I thought of friends who have made this journey but in the opposite direction from me, going North. Theirs was a slow and painful journey, walking here, riding there, and perhaps jumping on a freight train for a spell. Yet one desire united all of these travelers, hope for a better life for them and their families on “el otro lado” – the other side of an invisible line between a life with opportunity and a life with much struggle with little reward.
From my seat at 30,000 feet, I considered how there is one thing in common between my journey in comfort and the painful immigrant journey on the ground; neither of us deserved the consequences we received. My first class seat on the jet and their arduous journey on the ground are both due, not to some system of just rewards, but because of our capricious relationship to power and those who control the systems and decisions around us.
In a short series of blogs I hope to spur a discussion about power and justice. I hope we can consider how the opportunity of some is often dependent on the “misfortune” of others. Not that it needs to be that way, but when those with power forget to take others into consideration, the results can be damning for those without the power to respond or be heard. I believe it is the moral obligation of those with voice to speak-out for those forgotten and betrayed by systems designed to generate wealth and security with no regards to the negative consequences on those left out. Beyond speaking out, it is time to assure that these voices have their own place in the conversations that will determine their fate.
Presently net immigration from Latin America is around zero, a weak US economy and increased deportations and border security have slowed the flow of new immigrants. However, for the millions here their struggle continues. Our nation enjoys the work immigrants do, yet we frequently villainize and seek to criminalize their very presence.
Just immigration reform (reform that seeks justice) in the USA is not a political issue; it is the human rights issue by which our generation will be judged. The issue cannot be framed without hearing the voices of those most impacted by immigration, the immigrants.
Is your view about immigration reform framed by conversations with or information from immigrants?