In Midst of Ugly Anti-Immigrant Demagoguery by GOP Candidates, Immigrant Women Pilgrimaging to DC Inject Refreshing Dose of Morality into Immigration Debate
As the GOP candidates continue to fill the airwaves with xenophobic rhetoric and anti-immigrant demagoguery, a courageous group of immigrant women is showing leadership in ways the Republican Party has not.
On their pilgrimage from Pennsylvania to see the Pope in DC, the “100 Women” have penned a new open letterto Republican candidates, calling on them to stop the hateful dialogue and reminding them what’s at stake for millions of immigrants and Latinos in the immigration debate.
Their letter and pilgrimage offer a refreshing contrast to the ugly rhetoric seen by Donald Trump and others on the campaign trail. As a new profile by Scott Calvert of the Wall Street Journal notes:
“March organizers are trying to raise awareness at a time when some Republican presidential candidates urge tighter immigration laws. Real estate mogul Donald Trump, for example, wants to deport all illegal immigrants, end birthright citizenship and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border…
“‘We’re becoming increasingly alarmed that the rhetoric is feeding an anti-immigrant sentiment in this country,’ said Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which is part of the We Belong Together campaign under whose banner the women are walking.
“‘That’s part of the reason the pope’s arrival is so important and the timing is so important,’ she said. ‘His message of inclusion, cooperation and compassion is just such a different contrasting message.’”
The full letter is available online here and also follows below. It’s a must-read. The Republican field, especially, would be wise to take note.
Dear candidates for president,
Elections are about leadership. Leaders influence and shape the world around them. So far, the election conversation about immigration has caused us great alarm.
Many of you have engaged in rhetoric that is feeding a rising tide of hatred toward migrants in the United States and globally. This is precisely the type of rhetoric that seeds and promotes hate violence, and emboldens the most hateful among us. This is type of hatred that often results in the tragic loss of human life. And, it creates the context for hate-based policies with profound humanitarian implications.
Your proposed solutions are the same recycled solutions that have been proposed for years. From border walls to mass deportations and guest worker programs, we’ve heard nothing new.
The rhetoric and solutions we have heard are not grounded in reality. The reality is, many of you count on immigrants every day. We know, because we clean your homes and take care of your children and aging parents. We drive you to work, cook and serve your food. We teach your children language, art and dance. We design your apps and build your homes.
In this country, we are interdependent. The 11 million undocumented people living and working in this country are integral to this economy and our social fabric. We are powering local economies with our labor and businesses, and entire sectors — from caregiving to agriculture — are dependent upon an immigrant workforce. Immigrants and non-immigrants need one another.
Our decision to walk 100 miles is also an act of leadership. And it is an act of faith and love. Rather than wait for others to take action, we decided to embark on this pilgrimage, to echo the Pope’s message of humanity and compassion toward migrants, and to share our stories with all who would listen.
We hope to feed a rising tide of cooperation, generosity and welcoming of immigrants that we are also witnessing throughout the nation and the world. From train stations in Europe to the towns in Pennsylvania we pass as we walk, we are finding that people want to be a part of solutions based in reality, and rooted in a recognition of everyone’s human dignity.
We believe that this moment in history calls for courageous moral, innovative and practical leadership. As we prepare for his arrival, we hope Pope Francis’s leadership and challenge to elected leaders around the world to welcome migrants, and our decision to boldly walk 100 miles, serves as inspiration to you.
(from mile 26 on our 100 mile pilgrimage for migrant dignity and for all of us)