If you ask me what is going on with families at detention centers, I wouldn’t be able to give you the details. I stopped reading the news a couple of days ago and all I know are the headlines that make it to my notifications. I only know that families are being torn apart and children are being traumatized at the border. How could I be so uninformed about the issues affecting the very same community I came to work with? The thing is I do care — but seeing your community in pain is not easy; knowing your community is targeted everyday by people in power is hard. It’s difficult to scroll through social media and see images of the detention centers my mom painfully described and know that little has changed in 17 years. It is angering to know that it took the wails of children and images of crying babies to shake the nation. The suffering of children had to be exploited by the news media for people to care and be reminded of our humanity.
So I do know that my community continues to be in pain. I know that something needs to be done and the people coming in at the border need to be protected. But when it is your community that is hurting, it takes time to process and heal. I can only be so resilient and this time it is taking longer to recover, but that’s okay. Being in Tucson has taught me that you don’t have to be at the forefront of the movement to make an impact. Many local organizations have been working for years behind the scenes with the immigrant community. They are each helping the immigrant community in different ways whether it be by leaving water in the desert, helping undocumented students apply to college, or empowering immigrants.
I decided to end a week full of tragic news by going to a letter-writing event hosted by Mariposas sin Fronteras. We wrote little notes of encouragement to people held in detention centers and while a small act, it was something that I was able to do to help. Someone in the group had been detained for over a year and they shared that receiving those letters while in detention made their days because it showed that someone cared about them and was there for them. By writing these letters we are resisting. The immigration system isn’t set up in favor of immigrants, it isn’t meant to leave us with moments of joy. But those who receive these letters will find some hope and happiness and that in itself is an act of resistance.
We don’t all have to be doing the same thing to fight for this cause. We don’t all have the same resources and energy so it’s okay for some of us to lead protests while others are writing letters to detainees. Our efforts are dedicated in different places, but all for the same community. And as a quote from Cesar Chavez reads on a bridge I pass everyday to work “From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength”. The fight isn’t over and we will heal and rise because this community is strong.