Thursday I went to Pueblo High School in Tucson Where Margo Cowan, founder of Keep Tucson Together, leads a team of paralegals and just plain people helping people who face deportation. It was a gigantic room filled with maybe a hundred people. I recognized Margo from an all day workshop she led in Prescott Valley a few months ago. Whereas before I felt somewhat powerless to help, this time I had no choice but to ask somebody if there was anything I could do. They told me that if I observe a session, it would be a start in my learning to help when I get back to Prescott Where there is Keep Prescott Together group.. They also said that just being a witness is important. What I discovered for me, is that every story I become intimately aware of, makes me feel more connected to Truth. And Truth, believe it or not, relieves me of fear.
The first group was a young man, his wife, and a two year old boy who was running around the room delighting everyone. The father has been here 20 years after being brought over at about the age that their son is now. They were facing two possible tracks. One would cost $13,000 and would be relatively permanent, while the other would be less than $1000 and would be relatively temporary. It included a $500 filing fee. Their guide wanted to know if it was the best decision to pay rent rather than the filing fee which had a deadline. It was decided that they would try to get an extension on the rent. In the meantime, he has to wear a $400 a month ankle bracelet. He has not been to Mexico since he was a little boy. English is his first language. He has been fully employed the whole time he has been here and has never committed a crime Not even a traffic violation. He just happened to be in a car that was stopped.
The next couple was a little bit older. They had a boy and a girl and the mother was due in two months. He has a steady construction job. Their story shares a lot of similarities to the first, the main one being that they are human beings deserving of thoughtful considerations for their futures.
Overall, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for being allowed into these extremely sensitive sessions. And now I feel a sense of debt as a human being to tell the stories. Over the last few months I’ve heard many more stories that bring me tears. I’ve written two songs that were inspired by these stories and a third is on its way. My hope is that I will be able co-create these songs with people who have stories they want to tell.
Friday I spent the day with a van full of college students in Nogales, Mexico courtesy of Jerry Haas, Executive Director of Border Community Alliance. The first place we visited was Proyectos de Integracion run by Francisco Trujillo. where people who need prosthetics and wheelchairs are employed to build the things they need. One man had lost his arm when he fell off La Bestia. He builds wheelchairs.
We visited various community support centers, including a shelter and sang the Build the Bridges song with the students and patrons at a restaurant. Then we capped it off by meeting the US consul at a fancy restaurant. After a full day of being blown away by people driven by passion and compassion for zero money, ending it by listening to a man being paid top dollar to spew bull seemed totally appropriate
Monday I went to sit in on a Operation Streamline session with the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans and was again treated to a stream of bull from one of the court appointed attorneys after watching 70 plus people either sent back to the hell they came from or to another hell within our prison industry.
Tuesday I went back to Comedor in Nogales with Shura, the co-founder of Sahuarita-Green valley Samritans. This time I brought my ukulele and we jammed out on Construyamos Puentes (Build the Bridges) and Shura danced with the refugees to De Colores.