Sunday, May 22, 2011

Borderlinks Trip

I apologize for the near-monthlong break between posts....I've had so much running through my mind lately that the time to digest and write has been somewhat few and far between.

I had the opportunity the first weekend of May to be a part of a Borderlinks delegation, a participant on the trips that my roommates Ali and Stevie routinely lead as part of their jobs here in Tucson. Borderlinks strives to educate about the border through experience and conversation, relying on the participant to push themselves, to ask questions, to learn through the experience. I want to share a few of my writings from the weekend.

One of those most powerful experiences was watching Operation Streamline, a required courtroom appearance for migrants picked up by border patrol to plead guilty to the misdemeanor of "crossing the border without going through a legal entry point." If migrants believe they have an actual case for an immigration judge, they will go through a different court system. But for these individuals, about 75 the day we were there, there is only one answer to all the questions asked: "Si. Yes."
They each wore chains around their wrists and their ankles, with an additional chain holding those together. Every movement was marked with the sound of bondage. An as they were called up in groups of 6 to plead guilty, swept through the legal system in a solid hour and a half, I have to this the justice?

on all sides
we look at them
pity in our eyes
but that's still the power card
just another part of the lie
they look at us
lost, alone, abandoned....defeated.
Friends or foes?
Every face in America
must seem hard and bitter.

People in power mill around
smiling, chatting
flaunting the fact that they aren't
seated, cuffed in two places,
unable to move without the
jingling of chains haunting every movement

what drove them to try
such a dangerous, difficult, STUPID task?
they look healthy, capable
just like me
their eyes tell their stories
some sad, humiliated, defeated
others defiant, proud
some even twinkle
and for those
I have hope.

Do they really know what is going on?
Is the the idea of justice they are getting?
Maybe they'll find out Arizona isn't all that great anyways
now that they're here
but that is desperation for you
no choices
you have to act
without thought or regard for what could happen

I feel so much anger
but I'm not sure at who
is it purposeful?
Does it help?
Does it DO anything?
No. Definitely not.
But this is an outrage.
I want to stand up and yell it!
If everyone could see this
if people in the States could SEE this
it couldn't stand....could it?
We aren't that inhuman, are we?
It reminds me of Bradley Manning
even an American citizen and soldier can't get justice
and we are still unwilling to act.
And that is apathy. Insulation.
This will be our downfall.

The emptiness grows
that knot in my stomach that started when I walked in and
saw the men and women on "trial"
And as each person leaves the courtroom, one less person
here in this experience with me, the
emptiness grows
the loneliness grows
as this cavernous courtroom becomes larger and
more desolate, lacking the warmth of any humanity
my emptiness grows
my aching accelerates
my heavy heart
feels like it just might
fall out of me.
We lose in this scenario too.
We leave empty.

And that is what is bothering me the most about all this. We're losing a war against ourselves. Our own fears, our insecurities. We feel entitled. Entitlement breeds laziness, laziness breeds ignorance. And sadly, that is reality for many in the border region. There is no reason to understand the situation of someone that has a different color skin or speaks a different language. We're scared to try. Because when we do, we no longer have the luxury of framing the situation as "us vs. them." They are us. And we are them.

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