Evergreen Politics – June 19, 2007
More Neiwert on the "Dreams Across America" marvel
[The American Muslim Voice Executive Director, Samina Faheem Sundas, was honored to be one of the 100 Diverse Dreamers for "Dream Across America Tour" that left Los Angeles for Washington DC by train on June 12. In eight days via ten cities, the tour brought together one hundred diverse individuals from throughout the country referred to as Dreamers. These Dreamers shared their compelling stories and reinforce what still holds true today - no matter our backgrounds, immigrant or native born, we all cherish the values that make this country prosper.]
Dave Neiwert, our local treasure of a blog writer, was traveling across America with America. He loves getting to meet the immigrants on this train, the strong and diverse groups of people who are making this trip across America to tell America their stories. Here's are but two of the many characters in this lovely trip that Dave is observing up close:
There’s Hee Pok Kim, also known as “Grandma Kim,” an elderly Korean woman from Los Angeles (originally from Pyongyang) whose lack of English skills doesn’t keep her from communicating a real warmth and intelligence, as well as her fierce determination in helping to change the nation’s immigration laws — not for herself, but for her children and family and others like her, who have to jump through so many hoops to become “legal” immigrants that it’s no wonder they eventually give up.
Or Samina Faheem Sundas, a middle-aged Muslim woman from Pakistan who runs American Muslim Voice. Samina’s passion to fix the broken immigration system runs so deep that she gave up her job with a preschool-education foundation in order to make the trip. Or Doris Castaneda, an elderly woman from Guatemala who came along to try to change the laws for the sake of her children and grandchildren. Two of them — a pair of beautiful little girls named Ashley and Desiree — accompanied her on the trip to help make that point.
And here's what Dave says at the end of describing these two and half a dozen more of the folks on the train with him:
A century ago, the face of America was decidedly white. But two centuries before that, it was primarily Indian. The world changes and shifts, demographics with it.
What America has always been about is our shared values — a love of freedom and a respect for others’ freedoms, our willingness to work hard, our desire to raise our families in a safe and healthy place, and our wish to pass all that on to our children and their children.
For most of the past century — since the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, which codified the racist desire to keep out people who were not white (specifically, Chinese and Japanese) — our immigration laws have been predicated on the desire to keep people out, because we believed their skin color and nationality mattered more than their values. As the Dreamers and their stories make clear, it is time to find a way to welcome those who are, inside, truly American.
When that happens, we finally will begin living up to our own great ideal: the American dream.