As a member of the policy committee of the Women’s March who focused on immigrant rights, it’s important for me to say this: the symbolic reality of waking up the next day to find a woman missing from your workforce or home isn’t just something hypothetical, it’s happening every day in immigrant communities.
And I hope that every woman who is not undocumented who boycotts on Wednesday, myself included, recognizes our collective privilege in being able to participate knowing we’ll still drive home later and, hopefully for most, go to work the next day.
You hear a lot about a Muslim ban/travel ban and you hear a lot about a border wall — but do you know about the Executive Order signed on January 25th that essentially made 11 million immigrants in our country “criminals” subject to targeted enforcement and removal from this country?
My guess is you’re less familiar with this one, but the reality is that women have been disappearing from our communities under the radar of our country’s collective outrage due to these chaotic interior enforcement rules every day.
These policies are disrupting lives and communities under the guise of national security, and they are making our communities less safe. We are being told that our enforcement resources are being spent to target “criminals” — but they forgot to mention that they decided everyone is a criminal. And so, because these interior enforcement priorities actually lay the groundwork for mass deportation, it’s on us to raise our collective conscience as women who are citizens and push ourselves beyond our comfort zones to intentionally make the immigrants in our lives and communities feel less isolated and more supported with our love.
So on this #DayWithoutAWoman — I hope that you recognize and mobilize for these women who our country is already operating “without” — there are thousands more like them of all colors, ages, religions and genders. We can’t forget about them. We must fight for them and their families, and all of the families across the country also at risk. We — as women — can organize to make sure these numbers don’t increase.
Photo: San Diego Union-Tribune
Clarissa Arredondo — was picked up by ICE in unmarked cars outside of her home on Valentines Day. She is a grandmother who cares for her grandchildren. Her son-in-law is a Navy vet. She lived in the United States for over 25 years. Our country is already “without” Clarissa, and we must still fight for her. She must be reunited with her family.
Guadalupe Garcia De Rayos — showed up to ICE in good faith as she had for 8 years previously because the government knowing that she had two U.S. Citizen children had decided she is best to stay in the United States. She was detained on site and deported to Mexico shortly after showing up to her annual appointment. She came to the United States when she was 14 and had lived in the United States for over two decades. Our country is already “without” Guadalupe, and we must still fight for her. She must be reunited with her family.
Dany Vargas — is 22 years old and a DREAMer who spoke at a press conference in Jackson, Mississippi following her home being raided and her father and brother being taken away by ICE. Shortly after the press conference, she was a passenger in a friend’s car that was pulled over and she has been since sitting in a jail cell for about a week in Louisiana under threat of deportation to Argentina — a place she hasn’t been to since she was 7 years old. Our country is “without” Dany’s talents and aspirations as she sits in jail, and we must continue to fight for her. She must be released.
Jeanette Vizguerra — 45 and an activist mother of three U.S. Citizen children likely won’t be at a rally on Wednesday because her community is currently “without” her as she hides in sanctuary in a church in Colorado. Like Guadalupe, she had an annual check-in and opted to take sanctuary instead of the risk of them deporting her on site. We must still fight for her. She must be reunited with her community.
These women are just the tip of the iceberg. But frankly, one family destroyed by our broken immigration system is too many. Not to mention that on Wednesday thousands of deported fathers will be “without” their wives and daughters and sisters and mothers as well.
I hope we remember the principles of the Women’s March:
Rooted in the promise of America’s call for huddled masses yearning to breathe free, we believe in immigrant and refugee rights regardless of status or country of origin. It is our moral duty to keep families together and empower all aspiring Americans to fully participate in, and contribute to, our economy and society.
We reject mass deportation, family detention, violations of due process and violence against queer and trans migrants. Immigration reform must establish a roadmap to citizenship, and provide equal opportunities and workplace protections for all.
We recognize that the call to action to love our neighbor is not limited to the United States, because there is a global migration crisis. We believe migration is a human right and that no human being is illegal.
This paragraph requires action. This belief only works if we take a stand against deportation and the destruction of immigrant women and their families.
If you would like to figure out how to help immigrant women in your neighborhood, I encourage you to visit Informed Immigrant and search for immigrant-serving organizations in your state. Show up to their offices and ask how you can help make sure that no more children come home from school to learn that a#DayWithoutAWoman is actually now an everyday reality for them and the women they love and need the most.
Get loud for immigrant women.
El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.
The people united, will never be defeated.
Sí se puede.
Yes we can.