Happy 2013: Looking Back and Fighting Forward

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I'm here in the land of eternal spring, Guatemala, thankful for the privilege that gives me the means and the ability to cross borders to be home with my family, this holiday season. My gift, this year, to those reading this, is one of my favorite Christmas songs--The Kinks' "Father Christmas"--The punk rock they helped inspire clearly shining through.

There's a lot to reflect on, this year.
I can't believe it's been two years since the Senate failed the DREAM Act. I didn't realize how raw the wound in me from that loss was, until I heard some of the same members of the Student Immigrant Movement featured in the post I wrote about it, back then, reflect on it during their DACA victory, this year.

It's been said that you have to lose yourself before you can find yourself. I've lost myself more times than I care to count, at this point, but, if the Universe wills it, I believe I'm slowly building a life on a strong foundation that will allow me to leave this world a little bit better than when I came into it, which is the most I could ever ask for.

One of the many ways I've lost myself over the last two years was by spending myself into credit card debt. I'm subscribed to the New Organizing Institute's "Tip of the Day" and about a year after the DREAM Act vote I received this in my inbox:

Don't put yourself in debt for any campaign. Sacrificing your basic financial security for a campaign is a false, dangerous test of commitment. I've seen too many great organizers leave the field because they racked up thousands of dollars on their personal credit cards. That's not just a loss to them, but to our whole movement.
Only the Universe knows where I'd be if I'd gotten that piece of advice a year earlier and followed it. I gained so much more fighting for the DREAM Act than I ever gave up in dollars. I went into it with my eyes wide open. I knew that two years ago would be our last chance to get a vote on the DREAM Act for a long time. I was right, and I'm proud of the fact that I gave all I had to it, and then some.

I can't deny that I've been weakened over the last two years by having to use a huge portion of what I earn every month to pay down credit card debt. There's a lot of folks I haven't been able to help because of it. The serendipitous part of all of this is that the migrant youth movement has grown far beyond needing my help, anymore. Their DACA victory proves it. Whatever small part I played in all of that, or maybe even none at all, its an organizer's dream to know that you're no longer needed.

I will always be a supporter (I'm proud to say I was elected to the board of the Student Immigrant Movement, this year), and will always offer whatever help I can when I am asked, but as I write this, happy to say I'm only a month or two away from finally being out of credit card debt, it feels like an entirely new world that I'm surfacing into.

The other important part of this story, of course, is Presente.org. A year and a half ago, Favianna Rodriguez took a chance on me and hired me to be a campaigner, there. Since then, under the leadership of Arturo Carmona, Ana Perez, and Roberto Lovato, I've been steadily growing, as has the organization. As the conversation surrounding immigration reform heats up this, year, I feel like I'm in a stronger position than I've ever been to push things in a pro-migrant direction. I don't know if there's enough gratitude in the world to express the thanks I feel for all of this.

The challenges, of course, are still daunting. Over 1000 people are still being deported a day. We've seen the horrific consequences consequences of not fighting back against ballooning enforcement through horrific tragedies in detention centers, and at the border. I'm in a better position than I've ever been to fight all of this, though, and I think that's true for the broader movement, too.

I don't know if 2013 is going to be our lucky year, but I know we have the power to make it the beginning of many better ones. Let's keep up the fire.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on December 26, 2012 9:37 AM.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012 was the previous entry in this blog.

A Chance At Drivers' Licenses in Illinois is the next entry in this blog.

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