Piolin and Caravan for Freedom

Trip Start Jun 09, 2007
Trip End Jun 12, 2007

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

enlavidanueva@yahoo.com  for questions or remarks

 I have been having some unbelievable experiences lately.

 Yesterday, we heard about Piolin's freedom caravan through the U.S.  Piolin is the most successful radio show host in the Spanish world
His goal is to collect a million signatures in support of the stalled immigration legislation and deliver them to Washington D.C. It should send quite a message!

  My friend Jimmy and I heard these guys were going to be in Albuquerque and we took off.  It was an all night drive and we were really beat by the time we got to the rally.  Still, we made it on time! 

      While we were driving, we heard Piolin talking about the buses on the tour and his plan to drive to Dallas and Chicago in support of the cause.  Jimmy knows I am an avid pro-immigration guy, and he encouraged me to find a seat on  one of the many buses. 

     I hadn't planned any of this and barely had a change of clothes.  Nothing about me
said I was an attorney.  I didn't even have a nice pair of pants!  That was to play heavily against me only a few hours later. 

  As it turned out, there were not that many buses.  In fact, the plan was to bus a few Piolin support people and that was all.  We didn't realize it and pushed the crew pretty hard to let me come along.  It took some real convincing but they finally found me a seat! But I am getting ahead of myself.

      I even got to meet Piolin.  I was surprised at how gracious he was and how willing he was to meet with us.  He is obviously passionate about human rights and was genuinely concerned with complaints of brisk treatment by security of the many fans who joined the caravan.

   Meanwhile, the rally in Albuquerque was turning into a big hit.  People were coming from all over in support of the caravan and the cause.  People were lining the street and many of them spoke about the issues from their hearts.  As we were trying to convince the crew to give me a chance to be part of all this a camera was stuck into my face.  I had a good chance to tell things from my point of view. Too bad. About all I could say was hubba hubba, I was so tired, and not thinking about the points I wanted to make.  If I had, here is what I would have said:

 Our immigration policy is hopelessly broken and it has led to tragic consequences for millions ofpeople.

 No one is telling the immigrant side of the story to the general public.  We are all afraid of
talking.  Sure, the Latinos are vocal with the Latinos, but no one is saying what needs to be said in English.  The ignorance about immigration is amazing.  Nor does the Latino community seem to know how many people support the immigrant cause!

 We are growing a second class society with our immigrant labor force. 

 We won't give immigrants driver's licenses, a problem I often have to address when I represent these poor people in court.  If we did give them licenses, we would have insured motorists on our road, a certain benefit to the public.  We would also have positive I.D.'s as we all submit to fingerprinting when we apply for a license.

     We won't give them social security numbers so they often don't pay taxes. It is not fair to complain about the underground economy if you don't give these hard working people the chance to do what is right.  Some of the people who do finally get their green cards then have problems with the I.R.S. and end up in a lifetime of paying taxes, and horrific penalties and interest.

 We don't have a reasonable work permit program so many come across the border the hard way, that is through the desert.  There is a spot in one of the trails where girl's underwear is scattered about.  Innocent women were led to this spot and then violated.  In another spot in one of the many trails, clothing of every description is littered around.  This is a place where robbers set upon innocent people and stripped them naked.  Many immigrants sew money and valuables into their clothes and the robbers are after these things. Of course, rare is the report about those who die in the desert.  Some break their legs and are left alone.  Others get lost.  It happens a lot.  We just don't hear much about it.  (Why?)
This would all be prevented by a rational work permit program.

     Many argue immigrants come here to live.  The truth is, most of my immigrant clients would have gone home a long time ago if they could have crossed the border easily.  They left wives, children, mothers and fathers and so many others to make the trip.  I know some people who have not seen their families for years.

   Others argue those who cross the borders illegally should go to the back of the line in their application for a green card.  I agree wholeheartedly. The question is, where should they wait?  Here, or in Mexico?  If they wait in Mexico, they will be forced to leave children and their significant others in the U.S.  Employers lose their stable work force.  Real estate markets are depressed when the remaining family can't pay the mortgage.  Mom and the children who are here legally lead a poverty filled life. 

 By the way, the wait is about 14 years, another fact most people don't know.  Not many people are willing to put their lives on hold for 14 years, even if it means a chance to come to our great nation.  Canada and some other country's are actively seeking this labor force. 

   Just out of interest, how many upwardly mobile families are likely to encourage their children to skip college and take high paying jobs washing dishes and doing landscaping?Certainly, the cost of manual labor will go sky high if we can't find the workers to do the work.  I can hear the conversation now, "Why should we pay $100,000 for you to go to school when you can make $20.00 an hour washing dishes?"

 Then there is the issue of health care.  In Colorado you don't get it unless it is essential.  In fact you don't get any services unless they are essential in my great state.  That basically means your life has to be at significant risk.  The wife of one of my close friends could not
get treatment for breast cancer.  As I understand it, she was "out of immigration status".  The cancer progressed and she finally went home to Mexico where she shortly passed away! 

   I am a strong supporter of border security.  We must have it!  Yet, I have been afraid to speak out before now because of my fear this message might be mis understood.  I am a very patriotic person.  I love my country.  However, I subscribe to the belief immigration reform will make our borders stronger, not weaker.  With people able to come here legally, we can devote our limited resources to the real threat to national security, find ng and interdicting terrorists and drugs.  It is a matter of resources.  Atleast it might reduce the ranks of armed and frequently untrained civilian vigilantes from hiking the border in search of people who just want to feed their families.

    Back to the story.  I caught a ride with a cool guy named Jose Carlos and his friend Albany.  We took off behind the Piolin bus at break neck speed.  During our rush to Amarillo my new found  friends and I had a wonderful conversation about why unity is so important.  La Raza can't make immigration reform happen by themselves.  They need the support of the English speaking community to put the pressure on congress.  No one is telling the immigrant side of the story to the English community.  The results are disinformation, fear, violence and tragedy.

    In short, my goal was to tag along with Pilolin and his freedom fighters.  That would give me a chance to get some great photos and tell people about this event from first hand experience.  I do a lot of writing and it gets published once in awhile.  Who knows, a story like this should draw a lot of interest.  At least it would give me more ammunition when I am talking to a fairly ignorant English speaking public.

    Unfortunately, by the time we got to Amarillo, paranoia struck the Piolin security team.  Who was this uninvited-invited gringo, anyway?  There had been threats against the caravan and there was speculation I was one of the minute men under cover, possibly a terrorist and so lost in religous ferver maybe even a suicidal bomber.  I certainly didn't look like an attorney.  

    During lunch, people kept asking for my business card, which I rarely carry.  I couldn't seem to make them understand how it is done in Colorado. Anyone can make a business card so it does not pass for identification.  Rather, my Colorado Supreme Court bar card gets me into any jail or prison in Colorado, and I showed them that.  If it is not convincing, then we encourage doubters to call our attorney registraton office and verify.  They know they are talking to the registration office because they get the phone number themselves from directory services.

     At the end of the day, the security team decided I was a risk and asked me to leave the caravan.  It would have been nice if they had helped me find my way home instead of leaving  me at the truck stop in Amarillo.  The paranoia sweeping our great country has infected everyone--including my Latino brothers and sisters.  My new found friends just couldn't see why a gringo would fight so hard for their cause.

     I was optomistic they would rethink the matter and ask me to come back.  It has not happened and I respect their decision. 

    What my brothers and sisters don't realize is, I am not the only one who supports rational reform.  Until now, we have been too afraid of our own government to tell people what we think. That is just one more casualty of 911.
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