I love my community. Pascale Fusshoeller, one of our own, was arrested on immigration charges and threatened with immediate deportation. Our community rallied to her support, somehow pulling together a legal team and raising money for her defense. Supporters created a FaceBook page within hours, which received over 1200 “likes” within days. People made so many calls and sent so many emails that Senator Barbara Boxer’s office asked us to stop, assuring us that they had gotten our message and were considering Pascale’s case. Soon afterward, she was back home with her spouse, Susan. She still faces charges under a complex, unjust, and broken immigration system, but the legal process has been slowed down and will be highly visible, as the community continues to organize for her support. This case shows what community organizing can do.
Pascale received such an outpouring of support because she is an integral part of our community. She and Susan provide us with YubaNet, the online newsletter that provides general news, in-depth local and regional news, fire updated (the North San Juan Volunteer Fire Department wrote a letter on her behalf), editorial by local folks, and so much more. Her case has brought to light, in a personal and highly visible way, the cruelty and injustice of our nation’s immigration policies.
Most immigrants without the proper papers lack such public support. They are separated from their families and “disappeared” into a vast, complex, and profitable system of immigration courts, detention centers (often for-profit, privately run), and deportation. Many of us are now expanding our awareness and our circle of concern to include all immigrants, including those people in our community and beyond who have been living in the shadows.
I hope we can come together as a community to educate ourselves and speak out against the injustice of the current immigration system, to work for its reform, to resist automatic incarceration and blanket deportations, to support family unity, and to demonstrate solidarity with the immigrants in our midst. As Pascale’s case makes clear, organized “people power” can create a shift. Faith communities, local government institutions, community organizations, and concerned individuals working together can create this community as a sanctuary, where the immigrants among us can feel at home and at peace. This process has already begun.