To the Editor: Bill McKibben, environmentalist and social activist, was jailed recently for standing up for immigrants, saying that since he couldn’t be with them, at least he could be for them.
The banner we carried, Immigrant Justice in New Hampshire, on our four-day march from Concord to the Dover Detention Center, reflects this philosophy.
We stood 400 strong encircling 100 detainees who cried and banged on the prison walls in solidarity and appreciation, a most moving experience. But for the differences. We walked 40 miles; migrants walk for months, averaging hundreds. We weren’t “illegals;” we had water bottles (not deliberately emptied), dry socks to prevent blisters that without treatment can turn septic and cause death in the desert. We encountered no poisonous snakes, no exposure to extreme temperatures or violent gangs. We knew our way, accompanied by a doctor and provisions and were guaranteed safe passage by local law enforcement, always sustained. Every step of a migrant’s journey taken at night and in secret is fraught with danger, facing the uncertainty of detainment or deportation.
Though favored circumstances keep us one step removed, we can choose to protest.
The famous labor union song claims “step by step the longest march can be won” but only if people act boldly. Our walk is an act of peaceful witness, lamentation and resistance focused on unjust immigration policies.
Our presidential candidates and members of Congress need to protect immigrant families and enact humane immigration policies.Without this justice there will be no peace.