Seated in her wheelchair, from the cold of the pouring rain, Luisa de Dios shakes hands, raises her voice, chants the choruses of the slogans that some activist sings from the impromptu board at Union Park in Chicago, and receives a flyer supporting May 1st and the thousands of immigrants like her.
She does not want a photo, she does not want to “appear”, she is not interested in anything other than participating. This woman from the state of Puebla, México says: “We have to be present to defend not only our rights, but the rights of all those in difficult situations, who are vulnerable and outraged.”
The rally begins to grow considerably and she is excited and moves from one side to another in her wheelchair, in small distances because she wants to advance with the larger group of organizations that have arrived at the meeting point. She has heard the words of support from Senator Dick Durbin who, with a microphone in hand, has pledged to continue to confront the Trump government from its legislative standpoint.
But in the meaning of Luisa’s words, the conviction with which she says them, the commitment of an immigrant like her acquires another dimension, for although she recognizes that there is still much to be done and what has been accomplished so far, there has been little to celebrate. She says “there are many of us who face this situation, and although I am already a citizen, they make me feel unworthy, that they still treat us as if we were no longer part of this society.”
Indeed, the essence of the call to this Day Without Immigrants is to fight against the intention to disappear any vestige of a community that has given almost everything to be part of the American social fabric, but which, as Luisa adds, “still consider us as a ‘minority’, when that is no longer true. We are a majority that advances and has practically sacrificed everything to be here.”
Luisa moves away and loses herself among the crowd, merges into a single community voice that, under the rain, demands recognition of her presence, her contributions, her historical loyalty to a community under attack, as has been the case in the Hispanic community. Just as in other times Italian, Irish, Asian and many others were able to overcome the passing of time.
It is precisely what “Jorge”, another demonstrator originally from México City, said: “Trump has to see that there are many people this country needs, people who come to work and not to do harm, as he has said so many times since his campaign. He has to realize that even he himself should grant a legalization for millions of undocumented people. Politics and economics are going to thank him. ”
As Jorge joins the growing column, “Francis,” his Salvadoran friend “with all the years you can imagine living in Chicago,” intervenes to add that “only united, as today, will we achieve a change”.
“That is what Trump has to do, that is what we have to do to make him understand, he and his followers,” he says.
And in his words, are his footprints. In their tracks are those of a whole community that has seriously taken the reins of its destiny and its history, which is none other than the country they call home. The millions.
David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund. Americasvoice.org.