Sunday, families across the nation celebrated Mother’s day. But here on the border where immigration status is as fluid as the Rio Grande just being able to see your mom is a complicated endeavor. This year, the Voices from Both Sides Fiesta provide one such avenue.
Ivan Rodriguez hadn’t seen his Mom since he graduated from high school. It had been a rough two years, though that’s not something you’d hear him say. He had gone up to Midland and started working in the oil fields. It was tough, dangerous work – he has the scars to prove it. He nearly lost his left hand in one accident and it’ll never be as strong as it used to be. But today, he’s happy.
“Well, I just got this permit and I hadn’t seen my parents in two years, said Rodriguez. “For this, thank God, it’s one of the best days ever. ”
Ivan is lucky in a way; he was able to get a coveted work visa so he can be here legally. But others at the event have not been so lucky. People like Vanessa, an undocumented immigrant, who grew up on this side and is now, seeking a work permit under deferred action.
But when I get that, it’s only to be here, I can’t cross to Mexico,” said Vanessa. “So it’s going to be the same thing. It’s hard not to see my people but it’s for the best. Now with the DREAM Act thing, deferred action I can at least work here. So hopefully, I can get it.”
Even though the festival’s official aim is to reopen the border at Lajitas, there’s a bigger issue at stake here for the mayor Benjamin Ortiz of San Carlos– immigration reform who spoke to me through a translator.
“My son was born in Midland because of school he lives and for that reason I don’t get to see him but once a month or sometimes every two months,” said Ortiz.
He added that the situation for undocumented Mexicans in the U.S. is unclear and he was at the festival to make a point to leaders on both sides to reform immigration.
According to Ortiz, just in the last few hours over 300 people have signed a petition asking to fix the immigration system, a petition that Ortiz will be sending to both Washington and Mexico City.
Given Congress’s reticence to move on immigration reform, it seems unlikely that 300 hundred signatures will do much to improve the situation. Nor are there plans to open a border crossing at Lajitas. But even still, events like these provide an important connection to their families on the other side.
– Jefferson Yen