By Alaa Mukahhal
We’ve seen this scene unfold a hundred times it seems. We stood in front of the door of hope only to have it shut closed so many times it’s beginning to feel like déjà vu. Haven’t we walked down this road before? I wonder what’s it going to take to pass this act. What do I have to do to show you the urgency of the situation? Do we have to wait for a disaster to happen before we are shocked into action? How many more families have to be separated, how many more futures suppressed and swept under the rug, how many more youth have to cut open their veins to show you that their blood flows thick with the American Spirit? Do I have to get arrested and beaten, do I have to get deported and defeated; tell me, what’s it going to take?
I don’t want to sit here and make speeches to the wind, write these words and have them fall on deaf ears. Don’t get up and leave me, look away and ignore me, turn the page and pretend these words aren’t directed at you because they are. Hear the sincerity, the stress, and the frustration in my voice; I’m trying to reach you and make you understand this is an emergency, and I can no longer afford to ask, I have to demand that you recognize me as your equal because papers and numbers don’t make the citizen. So what’s it going to take?
The DREAM must pass now, stop wasting time and cut right to it. Add your amendments and challenges, we’ll meet and exceed them, throw up your walls and barriers, we’ll tear through them; move mountains in front of us, we’ll conquer them; I’ll sweat and cry for my country, bleed and die for my country; this is the only country I know, these are the only people I know, these are the only streets I know; I’m tied to this land more than anyone else, because I know what I stand to lose if I’m forced to leave and I’m willing to do anything to stay, so what’s it going to take?
How dare you hire my parents as your laborers and gardeners, housekeepers and farmers, and turn around look at me in the eye and say I have no right to be here, that all I gave and earned means nothing to you because I’m “illegal”, a man made status, and in the same breath tell me you expect us at your door 8 am sharp because that roof needs to be fixed before winter starts. You hire us to lay down your path in brick and stone, silver and gold then deny us the chance to build our own, tell us to quickly and quietly finish the work and stay in the shadows, in the back rooms, where the guests won’t look as you loudly rail against the “illegal folk.”
I don’t know even know where I’m going to be next year, next month, next week, what even the next hour will bring because it only takes five minutes to get arrested. What’s it going to take?
I’ll tell you what it’s going to take. It’s going to take the eleven-year-old boy in Arizona whose mother was deported leaving him alone with his brothers, and instead of wallowing in the pain he registers voters. It’s going to take the immigrant from Florida who travels the country, from DC to Cali with barely enough to survive fighting for immigrant rights so he can one day serve in the military. It’s going to take the detained college students in Phoenix, in California, in Georgia, in Texas, who don’t have papers but but have the resilience of a thousand soldiers. It’s going to take the migrant workers, the recent immigrants, and the long time citizens.
It’s going to take all of us to realize when the undocumented immigrant’s rights are waived then the citizen’s rights will surely follow. We can no longer wait for our paths to be unblocked and for our futures to be handed back to us.
The time is long overdue; the DREAM must pass now. We are undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic in our pursuit for equal opportunity, and we know exactly what it’s going to take.