Hoy marchamos, mañana votamos: Today we march, tomorrow we vote.
For the millions of Americans — documented and undocumented — who participated in the pro-immigrant rights marches of 2006, this refrain became the rallying cry against a broken immigration system that had claimed innumerable victims on either side of the border. The time has come to fulfill that promise.
Too many of us have suffered from the ongoing lack of responsible immigration reform, and we stand united when we declare that enough is enough. We denounce the discriminatory raids and heart-wrenching deportations that tear families of mixed citizenship apart and disrupt communities. These raids not only force thousands to retreat into the shadows of society; they also grant police officers the right to vilify whole Latino neighborhoods and subject them to unannounced raids.
A gross violation of civil liberties, these raids serve only to whet the appetites of anti-immigrant groups. They bring us no closer to solving the root causes of the immigration problem. Anti-immigrant sentiment takes for granted the invaluable contributions that immigrants make to this country daily. It is time for the government to take responsible action and finally address this issue, for millions continue to suffer as the current policies and attitudes remain. Immigrants have long been scapegoated and disregarded in the United States, and we refuse to remain ignored and powerless any longer.
We are asking the government to reform immigration policy — and we are asking voters to consider immigration policies when they go to vote soon. There must be legislation that makes attaining citizenship more efficient, that allows for fast and accurate FBI checks and for fair and affordable application fees. Arrests should not punish immigrants who have been subjected to illegal working conditions, but employers who would demean any human being in such a manner.
Undocumented citizens in good standing, who have been living in the United States and contributing to the economy, should be granted citizenship — especially those with families. We must consider that documented children have undocumented parents. We must consider that undocumented children did not come to this country by choice and may know nothing of the country where they were born. These children should be granted in-state tuition, and, given their demonstrated aspiration to the American Dream through higher education, citizenship. Immigrants do not come to flood our streets with crimes; they come to work, filling jobs that other Americans will not take and looking for economic stability vwunavailable in the countries from which they came.
On Oct. 15, over 100 people banded together to begin the largest hunger strike to date in American history. The “Fast for Our Future” campaign has aimed to mobilize a million people to vote in the general election on Nov. 4 in a nonviolent, united stand for immigrant rights. The fast is based at an encampment at La Placita Olvera, the historic heart of Los Angeles. They have pledged to drink only water until after the election on Nov. 4 or until one million people have signed the petition. Others across the nation have elected to fast for shorter periods of time. Immigrants, students, government officials, and labor and community organizers are uniting in this effort to mobilize supporters of immigrant rights to vote in the upcoming election.
In solidarity with this effort, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlán de Yale has committed to fasting for one full day from this evening until Friday evening. We invite all Yalies to join us in this historic movement, even if that means skipping a single meal.
We urge you to help spread awareness of the importance of this issue and to pledge to vote consciously. Talk to your friends, call your family back home, and talk to them about this issue. More than that, get them to vote with immigration policy in mind.
Angelina Calderon is a junior in Davenport College. Elizabeth Gonzalez is a junior in Trumbull College.