About DukeEngage Tucson 2010

Immigration is perhaps the single largest domestic challenge facing both the United States and Mexico today. People die nearly every week attempting to cross the border. Hostilities against immigrants in the U.S. rise daily. Local, state, and international relations are increasingly strained.

For eight weeks this summer, seven students have been given the opportunity to travel to Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico to study the many faces of immigration. Following two weeks of meetings with local activists, a Border Patrol agent, a federal public defender, lawyers, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, maquiladora owners, Grupos Beta employees, migrants, and local farmers, we will spend six weeks partnered with Southside Day Labor Camp, BorderLinks, or Humane Borders in order to further immerse ourselves in the issues of immigration.

This blog chronicles our experiences and our perspectives on what we learn while here in Arizona. We hope our stories are interesting and informative.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

El Final?

When I tell people about my project in Arizona, the first questions I'll probably be met with will have to do with SB 1070. "Oh, you were on the ground when all the protests were going on?" or "You're happy about that injunction, right?" or even "Wait, Duke put together a DukeEngage program for 1070 so quickly?"

That's where the interest will stem from. And that's completely understandable.

But as I look back on my two months on the Arizona-Sonora border, I'll know that that's not all there was to it. SB 1070 rallied America's attention, yes, polarized groups on the immigration and documentation issue. It got people talking. In a twisted way, I and many people are grateful for that at least. This is an issue that needs discussion, but it shouldn't stop at the scrutiny of one poorly-written bill. It should even extend beyond Tom Horne's ban of ethnic studies and the proposals to deny people, born in Arizona, U.S. citizenship. The issue is huge, complicated, and 1070 is already in effect in some ways, as Arizonans could tell you.

The 1070 fight hit home pretty hard at my own internship, which I was sad to leave behind. Working at the Southside Day Labor Center was a struggle, but a healthy one. Most days, I had no idea was success looked like, was hard put to see hope when day after day the men went without work and money for their children. But I hope we made an impact in some ways, with our English tutoring, our computer classes, the advertising, health workshop, and every other way we tried to fill in the cracks of the laborers' needs.

Sustainability, though, was our primary goal as we worked through the summer. We tried to engage the church congregation–which seemed disconnected from the day labor program—hoping members could carry the torch when we left. That, we thought, would be the true test of solidarity.

It was the fateful date, July 29, which showed us the fruits of our labors. We weren't there to witness it, but the church pastor and the Tucson Sentinel (http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/072910_anti1070allnighter) alike reported what we'd unknowingly hoped for. Instead of watching the activities on the news or waiting for much-needed work, the Southside laborers, along with 60 church members marched to downtown Tucson to protest 1070 last Thursday.

Now I look forward to how I, how we, can bring all the experiences back to Duke. As I consider it, think of revamping a campus group, bringing speakers, teaching a course, I keep the image of the protesting laborers in my mind--as well as the pastor's quote: "Todos somos jornaleros" (We are all laborers).

No comments:

Post a Comment