100 immigrants, afraid to do pilgrimage in Dalton, conducted a Holy Week Vigil for Immigrants. Here, America Gruner offers her reflections.
Dalton is a small city but 80% of the carpet of the world is manufactured locally and mainly by the hands of Latino immigrants, and where the headquarters of 3 major carpet corporations are located, resulting in billions of dollars annually in revenue.
It is estimated that Latinos make 50% of Dalton’s population and 30% of Whitfield County’s. However, we as immigrants are persecuted and in constant grief because of the many detentions resulting from the well orchestrated tactics between politicians-corporations-law enforcement, such as 287g. We feel trapped in the small physical area
Monday April 18, I was at the Coalition of Latino Leaders, CLILA, ready for the Vigil but feeling anxiety (as always) of not knowing if someone would show up because of the fear reigning in our local community, but the night turned into many blessings. One lady came to the vigil so I thought “well, at least the two of us will share our concerns and dreams”. Then a second lady came, then a family of four, and after that many others came, so I had the joy to unfold all the chairs we have to accommodate about 100 people plus about 30 children.
We decided to join Alterna again this year for this Pilgrimage because we’re tired of feeling fearful; we came because we want to feel we did something to change our situation. We didn’t walk physically, but we visited our fears and struggles.
Most of those who came are immigrants, from “el pueblo”, people who don’t speak English, people without academic degrees, but people with wisdom, and with the ability to sustain the local economy, whose hands, back and feet are weary as a result of cutting or sewing carpet, of lifting yarn rolls for more than 70 times a day, of sweating in the dyeing room, of making money for the executives and not for their own children.
All of us in the vigil were immigrants, we are the relatives of detainees, students, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and we felt the vigil was refreshing water because we shared our feelings, concerns, fears and hopes, our vulnerability allowed us to feel what experts call “community”.
Some shared the uncertainty of the future, and of the present, some walked from home since they are afraid of driving and become one of the many detainees.
After that, we made our liberation an emotional and physical reality by praying with our brushes; all of us, adults and children wrote our feelings and hopes on signs and banners, we showed them to others, we all joined in a collage of faith.
Then we prayed with our voices and hands, we asked our Lord for comfort, protection, justice, guidance, and strength. We prayed for our people in the county jail, for our men in Stewart, for our women in Ocilla, for those who have been already deported, for those who are still here but separated of our loved ones.
Then we lighted candles while we listened to “Himno de Victoria” (Victory’s Hymn) that made us remember that Israel’s people crossed the Red Sea against all odds because God was with them.
So we agreed that with or without HB87 or with or without different circumstances, He’s with us, He has the future in His hands, but we have to do our part and continue actively fighting for justice and dignity.
Pontius Pilate was a governor, who allowed the condemnation of the innocent…
Governor Deal, what are you going to do?
CLICK HERE FOR IMAGES OF THE DALTON VIGIL