By No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice | nopapersnofear.org/
Friday, August 17th the United States Commission on Civil Right held a hearing on the impact of state immigration laws on communities. The only people they forgot to invite were undocumented immigrants.
We decide to go to Birmingham, Alabama, where the hearing was held, because they cannot talk about the impact of immigration law without our voices. And because there was no space allotted to hear our stories, we made one.
During the testimony of Kris Kobach, author and advocate of Arizona’s notorious SB 1070, four of our undocumented riders stood up and spoke out about their stories. All held high signs that read “undocumented,” and did not back down until they were escorted out of the hotel by security.
The rest of the No Papers No Fear riders arrived that afternoon. We staged a performance with our bus decorated as a homeland security transport vehicle. We freed ourselves for the handcuffs and literally freed monarch butterflies, symbols of migration. Then a banner came down, turning the bus back once again into a vehicle for justice.
When the group surged into the hotel entrance we were blocked by hotel security. They pushed us out and threatened us with arrest when we knelt in the doorway. Since we didn’t back down, they did, and we were invited inside where the only people deeply qualified to speak to the impact of immigration laws,undocumented leaers, gave testimony from Arizona and Alabama.
The day’s events are a symbol of this tour. Alabama held a conversation about us and without us. When we made ourselves known they tried to exclude us. When we would not back down we won our inclusion for the day. We are no longer waiting. If space is not made for us, we will make it ourselves.
When we entered, one of the briefing members, Commissioner Yaki gave public comment that it would be people like us that would determine the future. He asked everyone to stand up, and raise their fists to cry out “si se puede” (“yes we can”).
With that, we packed our bags and headed to meet up with Somos Tuscaloosa, to train and exchange through the weekend in Alabama, this state of hate and hope.