I have never been so motivated or impassioned in my life. I am extremely grateful that CASA de Maryland has provided a foundation for what I hope to be my future career. As I aspire to one day become an immigration lawyer, my experience at CASA has undoubtedly shaped what I hope to accomplish.
One of my most vivid memories from childhood is when my mother randomly picked me up from school one day around noon. I was in middle school and while I knew immigration was an important subject to my family, I had not fully comprehended the immense impact the issue had on our nation. I had no idea why my mother came to take me out of school that day but I knew it was important. As a hard worker, my mother never let me miss class nor did she ever miss a day at work. I soon arrived to the closest DC Metro station to meet up with family and friends. I was handed a sign immediately and told to scream loudly. The metro cars were full of loud chants but this was nothing compared to what was to come. When I got off at the closest station to the Capital, the amount of people from the metro multiplied by ten and thus began my first immigration rally.
Until this summer, that was the only immigration rally I had attended. Now, as a part of CASA, I have been blessed to participate in two more protests. These have been the highlights of my summer. The first protest we organized was held on Wednesday, June 26. I was overtaken with emotion to see my community organize so well for such an important cause. Immigration has been a hot topic for years but now is the most crucial moment in its history. As I marched throughout the streets of downtown DC, many pedestrians stopped to take pictures. Some even joined in with claps and cheers but as with every rally, people with other points of views also shared their thoughts. While I was crossing a crossroad chanting “Si se puede!” an elder woman walked the opposite way screaming, “Si se puede deport you all.” While I know these sentiments exist in our country, I was still astounded that someone said this directly to my face amidst thousands of people. Out of nowhere I heard this little boy, about the age of ten, start chanting back to the lady “Don’t say that! That’s rude and mean. We care about our family.” He quickly turned back and continued with the other chants that the group was yelling. I turned to the child and congratulated him, encouraging him to never let someone discourage our fight and cause.
Once we arrived to the capital, Congressman Gutierrez joined CASA to deliver a motivating speech. Congressman Gutierrez is one of CASA’s biggest supporters who has helped our voices be heard on a political level. As we wrapped up the march a few hours later, I felt motivated and empowered to help my community. The following day my office debriefed over the march. Ironically, we received amazing news in the middle of our meeting – the Senate was going to pass the bill. We quickly left the office to make it to the Senate voting. CASA members filled up the buildings and voting session and once all the votes passed, the halls were overtaken by chants. This marked our first triumph but the hardest part awaited us. With 68 votes, the bill had finally passed the Senate.
The bill currently lies in the hands of the House of Representatives, a division that has a Republican majority. In order for the bill to pass, the bill must receive 218 votes. CASA has made it its mission to work harder than ever to get these votes. On Wednesday July 10, Republican Congressmen met to discuss the future of immigration. CASA immediately organized and phone banked the entire week to prepare for a march we would host during this meeting. To hear the excitement of my community members when I told them we were hosting another rally was heartwarming. And thus, we continued our march:
I am extremely proud to say that I am a member of one of the largest non-profits in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. I have been exposed to different aspects that must be taken into consideration when working at a non-profit and while I work in the legal department, I have been able to participate in the organizing committee as well. It has been amazing to see people of different backgrounds come together to fight one cause. I am truly inspired by everyone who has dedicated their lives to this cause and I hope to one day reach their accomplishments.
“Si se puede!” “Yes we can!”
“ No somos uno, no somos cien. Somos millones, cuéntanos bien!”
“Aquí estamos, y no nos vamos. Y si nos echan, nos regresamos!”