All Gaby Pacheco ever wanted was to finish college and teach music to disabled children. Brought to the United States by her parents as a young girl, Gaby has excelled in school, done extensive community service, and become an accomplished musician. But in spite of her hard work, she’s excluded from the workplace solely because of her immigration status. And she’s not alone. Her story is like those of thousands of other immigrant children who every day are robbed of basic opportunities to live and thrive in this country.
So on January 1, 2010, Gaby decided to walk. She and three fellow students, Carlos, Juan, and Felipe are walking 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington, D.C. to call on policymakers to fix a failed system that has kept them and millions of other immigrants in the shadows, with no pathway to a better life.
They call this their TRAIL OF DREAMS and they need your support. It easy, click on the link: http://www.Trail2010.org/action
After walking 600 miles, they recently entered the hostile territory in the Deep South. Last week they encountered an anti-immigrant rally led by the Ku Klux Klan. Today they walked straight into Gwinnett County, Georgia -- home of Sheriff R.L. “Butch” Conway, who is notorious for his anti-immigrant policies. Conway is known for being one of the most aggressive law enforcement officials to employ the 287g program, which authorizes local police enforcement to act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
According to Georgia immigrant rights leader, Adelina Nicholls: "Sheriff Conway is one of the most dangerous figures in Georgia, who has turned Gwinett County into a place of fear, racial profiling, arrest, and deportation."
The Walkers decided that they wanted to create a dialogue with law enforcement officials that use the 287g program to promote unjust laws that keep families separated and immigrants behind bars. Walking straight into a 287g county is immensely risky for an undocumented person. You could be detained for even the most insignificant infractions: broken taillight, jay walking, etc. They were joined by civil and human rights organizations on the ground: Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, legal observers from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the US Human Rights network, among others.
Gaby Pacheco, the bomb mujer holding things down on the Trail said it eloquently:
“We are walking from Miami to Washington, DC and we want to meet with the Sheriff to tell our stories—the stories of immigrants who work hard. We are undocumented ourselves and 287g agreements criminalize people like us. I want to show Sheriff Conway that I could be arrested and possibly deported under 287g simply because I have a broken light on a car. Our people are afraid to call the police. You swore on a bible to uphold the law and protect the people. For you to do this hurts us…
We are also here to show that we do not fear. We have been scapegoated. When you use call us ‘illegal,’ it dehumanizes us.
We’re here to tell you that we are not criminals and that our community is so terrified because they’re called 'illegal' all the time.”
Reading these words moved me and brought tears to my eyes. Everyday someone’s mother, daughter, sister, and comadre is told they are “illegal” and less than human. Our failed immigration system has fostered an environment in which it’s become OK to dehumanize our people.
That is why I’ve been urgently asking my friends and family to take action and stand with them. Visit http://trail2010.org/action and tell the Walkers you stand with them! They already have 20,000 people standing with them, and we need to reach 100,000 by the time we hit Washington DC.
The Trail of Dreams students are taking a brave stand for millions of others who suffer daily under our failed immigration system. They need your support. Please join them in their walk and ask everyone you know to do the same:
Click here to check out this great piece from the local CBS affiliate: