On Thursday August 28th at 11am, join tens of thousands of people— documented and undocumented; immigrants and North Americans; students and workers; a group representing the great diversity of the Washington area— that will assemble outside of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office at 500 12th St. SW before marching to the White House. With legislation logjammed in Congress and the total number of deportations topping 2 million under Pres. Obama’s watch (more than under any other president), the demand of those assembled will be clear: President Obama, use your executive authority to end the disastrous policy of mass deportation.
Our work with International Partners is rooted in optimism, a belief that if we work hard enough, work together, and work for one another that we can make our world more livable. This optimism has survived many personal and community tragedies, in part because each successive batch of delegates has forged bonds with community members that are strong enough to survive distance, cultural barriers, poverty, and time. Often, upon returning to the US, delegates are infused with a determination to change the destructive U.S. policies responsible for much of the suffering in El Salvador. But as comprehensive immigration reform was first militarized in the Senate and then ground to a halt in the House of Representatives, many of us felt that basic optimism, which drove us to solidarity with Salvadorans, called into question. On Thursday August 29th, those of us in the DC area will have a historic opportunity to rededicate our commitment to our friends in Cabañas, Cuscatlán, San Salvador, and the uncountable families touched by migration around the world struggling for a life worth living.
Just as the limits of the traditional legislative reform process have been made clear, there are also constraints on the effectiveness of political contestation in the streets. That’s why the primary organizer of Thursday’s mass action, Casa de Maryland (the organization that pushed successfully for the Maryland Dream Act and an increase in MD’s minimum wage), has put out the call for those willing and able to take their commitment to social justice to another level: civil disobedience. Casa is planning for Thursday to be the largest collective act of civil disobedience in the history of the immigrants rights movement, with upwards of 300 people, including undocumented people, risking arrest. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, contact Casa de Maryland at (301) 357-8853.
The overwhelming majority of those participating on Thursday will not risk arrest, and the stature and political heft of Casa de Maryland almost certainly precludes police harassment. Most of us will be there to lend our voices and bodies, to bear witness, and to bring word of the courage we encounter there back to our communities. The people we’ll stand beside are the family members of those we love in El Salvador, and by coming out on Thursday you’ll stand for them.
Casa de Maryland is calling Thursday El Día Decisivo, The Decisive Day. While complete justice will not be achieved overnight, no justice can be achieved without concerted, organized effort. Ending the policy of mass deportation that rips apart families is the crucial first step needed before the underlying causes of migration can be addressed. Will you join us in the streets on Thursday?
The author works as a teacher on Casa de Maryland’s Day Laborer ESOL Team. He is a past delegate, delegation líder, and cowpoke for International Partners.