No Papers, No Fear: Undocumented Activists on National Bus Tour

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So I’m sure you’ve noticed that in an election year, everyone wants un cantito de los Latinos. Y aveces no solo un cantito. Yup, the latino vote is “hot” again, everyone wants it –  like a wise man said, somos “La Fokin Moda.”

According to civic engagement organization, Voto Latino, Latinos make up more than 10% of the electorate in 11 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada and Texas. Which means there is a lot of talk from both camps about issues that are important to the Latino population here in the U.S.  – especially immigration reform. But even though one Presidential candidate tells you he’s Mexican (un Twitter no cuenta Mitt!), it doesn’t mean he’ll stop vouching for “Self-Deportation.” And even though the other one took steps to pass the DREAM Act last month by  announcing the Deferred Action policy, that doesn’t stop Arizona Governor Jan Brewer from enacting an executive state order that basically counter acts it.

In Arizona, one of the epicenters of the immigration debate, a group of people who don’t have the power of the vote are nonetheless coming out of the shadows to make their voices heard.

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No Papers No Fear: Ride for Justice is a community of undocumented activists from Phoenix, Ar. who began traveling on July 28th to make their way to the Democratic National Convention, where they hope to turn the tide on immigration from exclusion to inclusion. The riders travel in a big, turquoise Undocubus, aka ‘Priscila’, hitting various target immigrant communities across the South: New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and finishing up in Charlotte, NC. In each of these communities, they share the challenges facing undocumented immigrants and organize actions that confront anti-immigrant fear and build community.

The risks taken by these activists are very real: by announcing their undocumented status, they expose themselves to the possibility of arrest and deportation on a daily basis. Nonetheless, they feel these risks are worth it to communicate their plight and create a dialogue about today’s immigration policies. NBC News quotes Gary Gerstle, a professor of American history and an expert in social movements at Vanderbilt University, on the Undocubus movement:

“I think it’s important for people within the undocumented community to find some kind of technique that can have some success in increasing the pressure on the political process and on Obama and on the Democrats. I think in order for more to happen there has to be more of an immigrant rights movement and there has to be more of a human rights movement in the U.S., and in thinking about how that might happen, I think the ‘undocubus’ is innovative and has a chance of making a difference and it fits within a broader history of non-violent peaceful protest.”

The Undocubus will be on the road until it hits NC on September 3-6. Those who wish to convene and join them can find out more here. Want to contribute but can’t make it to Charlotte? Submit Art that inspires fearlessness for the undocubus riders and collaborators, or if you’re more of a social media savvy person, you can send a message to activists/leaders that have confirmed their support for the campaign (el Tweet es gratis señores!).