I am an American citizen. My parents are American citizens. Their parents are American citizens. I have been privileged with stability in my life knowing that my family and I would never be torn apart by borders, our lives would never be uprooted nor our rights ever denied.

 It’s a stability that I never gave much thought to until I started working with OneAmerica* here in Seattle and began to connect with the issue of immigrant rights on a more emotional level.  One moment in particular sparked a passion for the issues surrounding immigration for me, making it more than just a policy interest, but also a personal fight for “justice for all” as OneAmerica’s slogan states. The Community Organizing Team here at OneAmerica helped organize a Fast for Family Unity in Seattle that I was able to attend with some of the other members of the organization. During the fast they played a short film called Operation Butterfly which chronicled the story of three DREAMers being reunited with their mothers who had been deported and unable to return to the US for over 6 years. The DREAMers traveled to the US/Mexico border in order to see their mothers who were waiting for them on the other side of the fence. It was an incredibly emotional moment for all of the mothers and children and also incredibly emotional to watch. I couldn’t even fathom how it would feel to be separated from my mom for that long and only get a few moments with her through a fence. The idea of being kept away from my family is painful to even imagine and sitting with the fasters watching this story I realized how personal an issue this is for everyone involved. Even for myself and all other Americans whose families may not be immediately affected by immigration policy, it affects our communities, our neighbors, our friends, and our fellow human beings who value their families just as we do. Just taking a minute to place yourself in the shoes of these DREAMers or their mothers forces one to realize how important the protection of immigrant rights is.

The event also made me realize immigration is an issue that everyone in the US should not just care about, but should be passionate about because it is at its core a human rights issue.  Too often, we get caught up in numbers and big ideas that we forget the very personal stories of the people affected. I myself am guilty of this and I think it takes stepping back from the politics of the issue and stepping into the community to gain some perspective and add a drive to the movement. Community organizing is an important tool in helping others come to the same realization that I did and I look forward to continue working on organizing with OneAmerica the rest of this summer in the hopes that I too can help contribute to the empowerment of immigrant communities.

*OneAmerica is an immigrant rights advocacy organization that works throughout Washington State to build power in immigrant communities. 

Nicole Miller
Duke Student '15

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