By Alberto Moreno, El Hispanic News
When we were illegal, our fathers and mothers would rise in the early of the morning, walk past the cumin-laced kitchen and descend the dark wooden steps into the basement of Frank’s tenement building. They would walk past creaky storage units to the single shower room in the four-story building. A rusting pipe sticking out from a cement wall to receive them.
Every day our parents would race each other to this one shower stall at four or five in the morning then climb back up the stairs and race again to their waiting factory jobs, or to America’s hotels to clean and beds, ready make. Or to houses build and ditches dig. Or still, to harvest and your fields tend. Illegal-us!
But there was another untold ceremony. On too many a morning, our parents would wake us and tell us that they might not be coming home!
“La Migra.” They would whisper, to our still waking bone: “There might be a raid today. If we don’t come home, try to find someone.”
It was never clear to me as a nine-year-old what “finding someone” would mean. Or who would take care of us in a world where our parents could be taken from us at any given moment.
It created a sense of insecurity which to this day my aging bones cannot shake.
Each and every day, millions of our children across America still awake to this reality.
All because, the America, which was founded by immigrants, is afraid of immigrant us. Afraid not of our sedant lifestyle, but afraid of hard working us.
Fear is on the rise again. In America the fearful. The America, which waits to be brave and faces up to its unfounded fears.
This week millions of our children woke up to learn that America had once again broken its promise to our children. That President Obama’s promise to defer immigration enforcement for our children would not be kept. A politically divided Supreme Court quashing the dreams and hopes of millions of undocumented children across this nation by letting a lower court’s decision stand that the Presidents Executive Order for DACA and DAPA exceeded his constitutional authority.
Millions of “Dreamers” awoke to learn that the invitation carved on Lady Liberty to the world had been rescinded. Our children awoke to learn that America has decided it no longer wants:
“Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.”
That America is shuttering its shores and closing its doors.
The tide of hate and fear are on the rise again. Not only in America but across the world. Fear of the stranger. Fear and hate celebrated. Hate Trumping compassion and basic human decency.
The United Kingdom gave in to fear and voted this past week to leave the European Union. Choosing with this vote to give in to fear of the immigrant. Choosing isolationism over pluralism. Choosing instead to cower in the dark shadow of fear.
But fear has a price, attendant. The UK is quickly learning that there is a price to hate. Its markets and currencies have seen devaluations not seen in thirty years. The country will likely fall back into a recession of their own making. Which suggests that the response in the face of uncertainty is not to close. Not to shutter, but to open.
The United Kingdom decision to leave the European Union and its subsequent aftermath is a rebuke of racism and protectionism. A reminder to us that isolationism is death.
Back on our shores, the US is facing a similar choice. America is being asked to choose between emboldened hate or hope. Between tolerance and intolerance.
America, this election faces a choice. Whether to become America the fearful or America the brave.
And so we wait. Our children wait, in the shadows. For America to be brave once again!