Southern visitors are surprised by peaceful border
Although it has been more than 30 years since she picked strawberries near her family's home in La Conner, Rosalinda Guillen said she still remembers the sting of growing up feeling like a second-class citizen.
“It was hard to fit in at first,” she said. “You had to work twice as hard as everyone else (to get thesame amount of respect).”
Guillen, founder of the Bellingham non-profit farmworker advocacy group Community to Community, was standing with San Diego, California resident Enrique Morones, founder of the human rights group Border Angels at the Peace Arch monument on the U.S./Canadian border in Blaine on Tuesday.
The two had organized a vigil on the Canadian side of Peace Arch State Park as part of a 4,500-mile caravan through major West Coast cities, border to border. Guillen said in the debate over what sensible immigration is, many have forgotten the very real human aspect U.S. policy has on the ground level.
The number 4,500 represents the official number of undocumented people who died trying to cross the southern border between the United States and Mexico since the construction of a 17-mile wall built under the Clinton administration and extending from the Pacific Ocean to the San Ysidro border checkpoint.
Guillen said many people in the march were surprised at the contrast between the emphasis on friendly relations at the Canadian border as opposed to the militarization of the southern border.
“They’re all surprised at the peacefulness of the northern border,” she said.
Morones agreed. “There’s no wall here,” he said. “Yet the irony here is that the terrorists apprehended have come through the northern border. There is not one documented case of someone crossing the U.S./Mexico border and committing a terrorist act.”
Morones said the upcoming 2008 presidential election is one of the “most important” elections Latino voters will ever face.
“We want a president who will give us the humane immigration reform we’ve been asking for for 10 years,” he said. “We want those who are residents to become citizens; we want citizens to register to vote; and we want those registered to vote to vote.”