This is the speech I gave, on behalf of AFSC-Indiana, for the Immigration Heritage Week Press Conference put on by the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance. Also speaking was ACLU-Indiana, the Immigrant Welcome Center and the Muslim Youth Collective.
We gather here to celebrate the Proclamation of Immigrant Heritage Week by Governor Holcomb. We acknowledge how great it is that he understands the contributions the immigrant population has brought upon our communities. But let us not forget to acknowledge the reality of where we are at, in our city, this state, the country and the world. As a daughter of an immigrant and a first generation American, I first hand understand the reality of what immigration looks and feels like. I am not unaware of the worry that comes with wondering if my mother will no longer be allowed to stay in the U.S. Knowing how one word and a comma in legislation can cause families to be ripped apart and people’s lives forever altered. I am also aware of how her white privilege protects her from the harshness of state perpetrated violence as well. That is the reality of immigration and the grasp of how unproportionately black and brown folxs not excluding, immigrants are targeted by police and ICE. Let us not forget that Mexico is not the only country that borders the US. Yet we do not see pictures of Canadian families being ripped apart. We do not hear about Immigration and Custom Enforcement raids at hockey games or in Hollywood homes. We can not deny the reality of the racists practices our nation and history is steeped in. Black and brown families have been ripped apart since the beginning of this nation. Whether it be the near genocide of indigenous families and sending first nation’s children to boarding schools to adapt into “American” society. Whether it be Africans kidnapped and forced into slavery with forced separation of families or tribes made it easier to profit off of an individual’s labor. Whether it be Japanese internment camps. The Industrial Prison Complex. The Mexican border. Gaza. Palestine. Somalia. We must move to fight for more than just a proclamation but must take a stand for real change in the systems that oppress our immigrant population and the black and brown communities that are not seen as equal in the eyes of the law or our government. We must call for Holcomb and our other elected officials to fight for a pathway to citizenship that is fair and just. We must call for our own neighborhoods and churches to become sanctuary spaces so our immigrant and refugee communities can know they are not alone. We must call for our undocumented community to be able pay in-state tuition and receive driver’s license. We must fight for our Dreamers and those unable to come out of the shadows. We must call for a end to militarization of our police force and ensure that ICE is abolished. We must support groups like IYUA, Exodus and the Immigration Welcome Center and ensure they have what they need to continue their work. We must put them at the forefront and follow their lead without questioning or taking over. We have made huge strides in the past towards equality and social justice for all, but we must do more then post memes on social media. We must do more then attend rallies. We must create sanctuary spaces. We must get activated and show our elected officials that we will no longer be pacified with proclamations, but make them do real work to ensure our immigrant and POC communities have the same rights as those that benefit from whiteness. We must end systematic racism at its root and fight for equality for all people. We can not just fight for families to be jailed and deported together. We must make a stand for real immigration reform and do right by the indigenous populations, whose land we stand on. Let us mean justice and liberty for all, no matter a person’s birthplace, skin color, gender presentation, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, physical ability or wealth.