When people talk in the abstract about undocumented immigrants – or, as some call them disdainfully, “illegals” – they don’t think about the fact that these “invisible people” are in fact present every minute of every day. The food we bring to our mouths has been picked or processed by their hands. They serve or cook our meals in restaurants, take care of our children, clean the offices where we work, or own businesses we patronize. They are our neighbors, friends, relatives…the list goes on.
Only in the world of Sheriff Joe Arpaio can you tell if someone is undocumented just by looking at him. The reality is that we’re all mixed together. I don’t like it when we talk about immigration reform “bringing people out of the shadows” because it makes them seem like criminals. They’re not in the shadows, they’re in plain sight–even though some people don’t want to see them or recognize their existence, and even though they have to live plagued by uncertainty from one day to the next.
Over and over again, we’ve been told that immigration reform is coming, and it’s beginning to seem like crying wolf. But our job now is to maintain the pressure on Washington to do something.