Friday night, a little over 25 people gathered at Parkway United Church of Christ to support undocumented members of our community. Immigration reporter Tina Vasquez and her partner Ben Presley prepared a delicious family style Mexican dinner-complete with appetizers and desserts. Tickets were $20 per person.
Members of Parkway UCC helped set-up and clean-up the dinner. Compare Foods donated the groceries. All proceeds-over $500 raised, went into an emergency fund to benefit undocumented community members being targeted for deportation.
Tina Vasquez told the crowd of students, church-goers, and community activists assembled that she used to think that her contribution as an immigration reporter was enough. But after being moved by the immigration nightmare that Minerva Garcia and other undocumented immigrants are enduring, she wanted to do more.
Tina and Ben hope to have more undocumented immigrant fundraising dinners at Parkway UCC in the future. Friday night’s dinner/fundraiser was a form of sanctuary for everyone that was assembled at Parkway. It was nice to be at Parkway UCC Friday and be surrounded by men and women with love in their hearts and compassion towards undocumented immigrants in our community.
Immigration is perhaps the most polarizing issue today, in our divided states. As I write this, the federal government has temporarily shut down, due to its inability to reach a compromise deal on DACA.
As Donald Trump politicizes immigration with his offensive racist language, and every day removes protections from more immigrants (Salvadorians, Haitians, Nicaraguans) the budding sanctuary movement in North Carolina continues to grow (without any encouragement from the W-S City Council).
Thursday, Oscar Canales become the fifth person in sanctuary in North Carolina (Triad City Beat reported). Canales, a Salvadorian small business owner, is now occupying the same Greensboro church that Minerva Garcia walked out of in October when she thought her immigration troubles were over.
Minerva’s case is a lens into our nation’s cruel and broken immigration enforcement system. It’s a legal maze that can go on for literally decades, often with no way out.
Congregational UCC sheltered Minerva and her two young sons from I.C.E.’s clutches for over three months. By taking refuge in Congregational UCC, Minerva Ciscernos Garcia’s story gained prominence in the country’s immigration debate.
Minerva Garcia is a mother of three who nearly 20 years ago, crossed an imaginary line dividing our nation from Mexico-because she wanted her blind son to get the best possible education.
For that supposed crime a mother of three now has an ankle bracelet monitoring her every move-despite receiving a ruling from an immigration judge vacating her previous deportation order.
Minerva hasn’t violated any non-immigration laws. She’s paid her taxes. She’s worked and provided for her kids, two of which are American citizens, while her oldest son is protected by DACA-for now.
Minerva and her family are firmly rooted in our community. Minerva is one of many Latinx immigrants who has helped to prop up the tax-base of southeast Winston in recent years. Without Mexicans and Central American immigrants, there would be virtually no economic activity along Sprague and Waughtown Streets. But that means nothing to I.C.E.
Minerva Garcia is being targeted by I.C.E, apparently because she is a single mother. She is also apparently being targeted because of her participation in the sanctuary movement. Democracy Now and other news outlets are reporting that members of sanctuary coalitions around the country have been targeted by I.C.E. in recent weeks simply because of their organizing activities.
What other reason could I.C.E. have for slapping a monitoring bracelet on Minerva? They didn’t like being outmaneuvered by a Mexican woman-plain and simple.
Given our government’s cruel and arbitrary immigration enforcement practices, I’m proud to stand with Minerva, Oscar, Juana, and other immigrants who are being needlessly criminalized by Donald Trump and his goons at I.C.E.
I support the Democrats’ efforts to get a clean DACA Bill signed by president Trump and I lament the fact that Obama never checked the unconstitutional actions of I.C.E., nor used his considerable talents to de-militarize our nation’s immigration enforcement.
Today, I will be in Corpening Plaza, rallying with other progressives against Trump. I hope every Republican gets voted out of office and that their racist, corporate agenda is dismantled.
But I have limited faith in the Democrats to enact progressive policies that will protect immigrants, women, workers, or the LGBTQ Community. To get the progressive policies that we need we will have to keep organizing.
I’ll see you at the next undocumented immigrant benefit dinner in Winston.