“I love the United States so much that I want to share it…”
By Mark Lane
Editor Note: One year ago in Murrieta California, self-styled patriots acting on rumors and innuendo blockaded busloads of refugee women and children from Central America on their way to a Border Patrol processing center. Latino and Human Rights activists returned to Murrieta on July 1st to commemorate the anniversary of the historic confrontation that laid bare the racism in Southern California for the world to see.
Mark Lane, known locally as the owner of Poppa’s Fresh Fish and as host of Radio Pulso del Barrio, sprang into action last year when he saw the events in Murrieta unfold on television. He was an organizer of the July 1 commemoration and delivered the following remarks to the crowd.
Last year, we saw the worst of what our country has to offer, and then we saw the best of what our country has to offer. The movement of compassion that was born that day was amazing, it was enveloping. We saw our country come together like it never has. These people, these human beings fleeing from incredible crime, violence and poverty, coming to the United States of America, looking for shelter, refuge. They came knowing that their travels would be dangerous, life threatening. They came because they had no choice.
On that hot summer day, one year ago today, we saw women and children exercising their right under the laws of the United States of America to ask for asylum, being harassed, insulted, abused, terrorized. Then we saw millions of Americans revolt in compassion. It was amazing, it was overwhelming. When my family saw this play out on the news, we knew we had to act, we knew we had to show our children the counter action to this hate, and not with words, but with actions.
We decided to take in a refugee family. We took in a family from Guatemala, a mother and four children. They stayed with us for four months. The transformation of them from their first day with us until their last day with us was remarkable. The more remarkable thing was the transformation of my family, of my children, they became brothers to these children, the bond between them was beautiful. My two little ones still ask about them to this day.
The hate, will never, ever break what we instilled in our three sons, never. Our sons go forward knowing what is the correct answer to hate and racism, that can never be taken away from them. We win! Each future generation that we show this love and compassion to is one generation closer to our victory over hate.
As we sit here today, its important to understand, that the fight is not over, there are still thousands of women and children in detention facilities around the country, for profit detention facilities, FOR PROFIT. This means they cannot exist without the product for their profit, and that product is human beings, brown skinned human beings. This is disgusting, this is vile, we must continue the fight until every refugee is released from these detention facilities and until every for profit detention center is closed.
Today we sit on the cusp of our nation’s birthday, and I can’t help but think how much more patriotic can we be then to be here advocating for our brothers and sisters who come seeking a better life like so many millions before them. On the cusp of our nation’s birthday, I can’t help but think, what a beautiful country founded and built on the backs of immigrants, we are absolutely a country of immigrants, whether you are a first generation immigrant, a second generation immigrant, or a 20th generation immigrant– your family tree stops somewhere and someone came from somewhere.
I love the United States- standing here on the brink of the 4th of July – I love the United States – I love that we can have this rally here- I love that people can disagree with it – I love freedom of speech – I love due process – I love so much about this country.
I love that we have this system in place to give people the American right of due process to ask for help to seek asylum – I see that as institutionalized compassion. I will do anything to protect it. I saw it threatened one year ago. I saw it strengthened one year ago!
I saw so much compassion arise from that blockade. I saw much more understanding arise from that- it changed my life- my cup runneth over. I love people with compassion, people who care, people like you who took your time to come here to day. Thank you- I celebrate your compassion.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
That is the United States of America, that is what we are about, compassion and fighting to keep compassion as part of our culture and heritage. Fighting to help those in need, fighting to help others exercise their rights for due process, that is what the United States is about – that is why I am here.
I love the United States so much that I want to share it, I want to share it with you, with them, with the beautiful children on those buses.
When Europeans arrived on this continent, they blew it with the Native Americans. They plowed over them, taking as much as they could of their land and valuables, and respecting almost nothing about the native cultures. They lost the wisdom of the indigenous peoples-wisdom about the land and connectedness to the great web of life…We have another chance with all these refugees. People come here penniless but not cultureless. They bring us gifts. We can synthesize the best of our traditions with the best of theirs. We can teach and learn from each other to produce a better America…
― Mary Pipher