A couple Virginia activist friends of mine have participated in a public act of protest to draw attention to the treatment of immigrants. Below is a press release for their provocative action which has received a good deal of media attention. For those who want to learn more about the motives of a couple white Virginians who chose to cross the us/them divide and stand in solidarity with Hispanic immigrants, please check out the media coverage and/or listen to the Weekly Sedition show that was on WRIR 97.3. Maybe you're asking "who are they and why are they here?" This public action may not give direct aid to the undocumented, but I hope it will encourage others to think deeper about a polarizing issue that has both parties scapegoating Latin-American people for political gain.
For Immediate Release
Virginia Activists Illegally Cross U.S. /Mexico Border and Immigration Checkpoint
Two Virginia immigrant justice activists completed their trek crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally Monday afternoon, April 21st. Upon reaching Arivaca Road, forty miles north of the border, Jeff Winder and Sue Frankel-Streit approached a Border Patrol highway checkpoint with a banner that read "From Virginia to Mexico, Open Borders and Justice for All!" The trekkers strung shoes and other belongings left behind by migrants to the
bottom of the banner.
Border Patrol officers did not attempt to stop them or inquire about their citizenship at the checkpoint. Winder added, "Where people of color are routinely stopped, interrogated, and searched, we walked through without confrontation."
Ricardo Juarez, coordinator of Mexicans Without Borders in Virginia, says that the organization endorsed the action to, "focus attention on the reasons why people are forced to cross the border in search of jobs and survival."
Winder, also an organizer with The People United, says he hopes that for communities back in Virginia the action, "exposes the reality of a borderwhere products move freely through ports of entry all day while human beings die in the desert. A militarized border and anti-immigrant policy do not make us safe; our safety will come when the vast disparities of wealth and power represented by trade policies like NAFTA are eliminated."
In light of anti-immigrant policy, such as the resolution passed in Prince William County, Virginia, requiring police to verify documentation for anyone under suspicion for having committed a crime, and limiting county services to citizens, Frankel-Streit says that the action, "has raised the awareness of thousands of new people about the harsh reality of the border crossing, the roots of immigration, and will help us engage in dialogue about how to build stronger and more diverse communities."