LatinaLista — The defeat of yesterday’s vote on moving forward with the immigration reform bill in the Senate was a huge disappointment for anyone who is tired of the rhetoric and wants to get on with the business of living.
Critics may think that the longer the bill is not passed, the longer undocumented Hispanics will suffer hardships to the point of being driven out of their homes.
The only problem is that the longer the bill sits in limbo, the longer Hispanics who are citizens are suffering.
There’s no clearer example of this than what recently happened to Amilcar Arroyo.
Amilcar is a first-generation immigrant from Peru. He’s a legal citizen, an entrepreneur who is the publisher of El Mensajero, a local Spanish-language newspaper, sits on the board of several distinguished non-profits like United Way, and is an 18-year resident of â€” Hazelton, Pennsylvania.
Yup, the cradle of anti-immigrant fervor.
Ever since the town’s mayor spearheaded a campaign to pass a city ordinance that would fine landlords who rented to undocumented immigrants and business owners who employed them, it’s been a most unfriendly town to people with brown skin or speak with an accent.
During a rally at Hazelton City Hall where hundreds of the mayor’s supporters of his anti-immigrant ordinance had shown up, Amilcar, like a good journalist, went to cover the event.
Camera in hand, he was taking pictures of the people shouting “USA, USA” when all of a sudden a woman came up to him, and in something that sounds like a Biblical passage, began accusing him of being “one of them.”
She thought Amilcar was one of the people suing the city over the illegal immigrant ordinance. He isn’t.
A woman at the Hazelton rally shouts at a legal immigrant to go back where he came from.
Before Amilcar knew it, he was surrounded by about 20 people shouting things at him like “Get out of the country,” and “traitor.”
The local police, whom he personally knew, came up to him to shield him from the angry crowd. They escorted him to his car.
Police protect Amilcar Arroyo from angry crowd
Today, Amilcar told Latina Lista his feelings about what happened at the rally and how life has been in Hazelton for him since the ordinance was passed.
I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t want to say anything to further anger them so I just stood there, experiencing it. Finally, I tried to tell them I was legal but they didn’t want to hear it.
A policeman I know came up to me and told me “I think it’s better for you to leave.” The Chief of Police, who is a good guy, provided me with a car to take me to my car.
Those people didn’t see me as a person. They saw me as a representative of the Hispanic immigrant. Their behavior is proof to me that the movement (against undocumented immigrants) is wrong.
(Today) when I stand on the street corner to wait to cross the street, there’s always somebody in a car, who right before they go when the light turns green, will shout things at me like ‘Hispanic SOB’ or ‘Hispanic go back to your country.’ I get hate e-mails.
I don’t hate anybody. I behave like I always do.
Amilcar said that even though his fellow residents of Hazelton treat him like this, he’s never thought of moving away. Hazelton is his home.
Yet, as long as the Senate does nothing and there are people who will use their position to fuel hate and discrimination, innocent people will continue to get hurt in the crossfire of this debate.
Today, it is angry shouts.
What will it be maÃ±ana?