Many of you know that I am a cucaracha de iglesia and attend Mass every Sunday. My busy summer schedule shifts going to church to St. Matt’s–the majestic cathedral in Washington, D.C. where John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy were married–instead of Dahlgren Chapel in Georgetown. I was really excited to hear in the announcements after Mass about a presentation and Q & A on the Catholic Church’s teachings and position on immigration.
The room was packed with all kinds of people–older, more conservative folks, immigrants from Africa and the Philippines, young professionals, some clergy, a young baby and mom, plus moi. Someone from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spoke and listened for two hours, explaining the Church’s long history of advocacy rooted in Scripture. A few tense moments filled the conference room when a couple of opponents started lobbing the bombshell words “amnesty” and “open borders.”
More than numbers or statistics, what stuck with me is the message that immigration reform will happen but that the effort is going to be hyper local–through meetings in church basements, old folks homes, and PTA meetings. I only wish the Latino advocacy community–who I call the D.C. Latinos who go from conference to White House meetings to conference–stopped talking to and amongst themselves and like-minded peers and went where it’s “uncomfortable.”
That means our senior centers.
To soccer fields.
To poor neighborhoods where people are scared that those imm’grints are going to take our jobs.
It also means within our community–to our mamis, to high schools where U.S. citizen children study, and the fast food joints where they work. Nothing scares politicians more than voters’–especially Ol’ Reliable’s–calls demanding action on an issue.
More than half a century ago, the March on Washington succeeded not just because of the heroism and leadership of the African American community. Its success is shared by the quarter of the people who packed into the National Mall–whites, Latinos, disabled, you name it. In effect, they mainstreamed civil rights and equality when they claimed these principles, when they showed up and their presence declared: America belongs to me and in my America, we don’t have two classes of people.
It doesn’t have to be immigration.
But choose an issue.
And show up.
I did last Saturday morning when I could have slept in. How about you?