BY BOB BEARDEN
On Jan. 30 we quietly celebrated three years of standing up for immigrants, dreamers, et al – three years to the very day we started our Prayer Vigil for Immigrant Justice.
Not much has changed since then, but we haven’t given up the ghost, either. Standing up for what is right can be a lonely vigil, but it is the right thing to do. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is right to do that which is right!”
Our gatherers have dwindled from an average of 35 to 50 to now an average of maybe between 15 and 25, but we still have a hardy core that can’t show up at every vigil but will come whenever they can.
And in this world of competing demands, doing something every week continuously is a major accomplishment.
We lost the press a long time ago. They are mired in sensationalism. Standing a lonely prayer vigil for people who are on the edge of our society isn’t something that makes careers for those media people locally who are shooting for the moon.
Maybe it is the isolated location where we hold our weekly Prayer Vigil for Immigrant Justice. Most people who live in the Oklahoma City area have no clue where the local ICE Office is and it doesn’t advertise its existence, wanting no outside connection with the real world.
And why should it, since what it is doing under this administration is nefarious at best and often what ICE does may not be strictly legal, either. We don’t know one way or the other for sure because they prefer that we don’t.
So, in Oklahoma, thousands of people lie low because they aren’t sure of their status and or aren’t in this country or this state or this city legally. But our government has long ignored undocumented immigrants while partaking of the often much needed services they provide our communities and our citizens.
It’s kind of been like don’t-ask, don’t-tell and all will be OK.
Our community leaders ignore them for the most part because they want plausible deniability if something untoward crops up. But they know immigrants are here and if all sent away, back to wherever they came from, our local economy would be in dire circumstances.
So, community leaders ignore and the press ignores because no one in power really wants to address the issue of immigration in a sane and common sense manner. The undocumented millions here perform jobs that are low wage and not something that most Americans wish to do. They are overwhelmingly hard working, law-abiding, good citizens, but that, too, is ignored by the powers that be.
It is much easier to use these people as props in the game of power than it is to really care about them and fix the problem.
These days ignoring reality has become a political tool and we are mired in the unreal world of fake reality. Millions upon millions of our fellow citizens overdose on TV shows that proport to be about real people but are just distracting, low-budget, scripted nonsense and a real person wouldn’t be caught dead taking part in such fakery.
It’s the way things work. The media are concerned more about who wore what to what event than they are about the problems of a class of people who work hard, do good and lead lives mired in fear of a knock on the door in the middle of the night that will end the world they have carved out for themselves in what used to be the land that dreams are made of.
We aren’t going away. We will still be there next month and the next and the next holding our lonely Prayer Vigils for Immigrant Justice, because it is the right thing to do.
– Bob Bearden is a trustee for the Central Labor Federation and a member of Mayflower Congregational Church, UCC in Oklahoma City