From Leticia Ramirez, an undocumented mother of three. Readers can follow her journey at nopapersnofear.org
In six weeks I will arrive in Charlotte accompanied by a full bus of other undocumented people, after visiting with immigrant communities who face discrimination, supporting their efforts to affirm their dignity and no longer be afraid.
Like many others, Im tired of living in fear. Ive lived here for 18 years but didnt get involved until Gov. Jan Brewer signed Arizonas SB1070 in 2010. At that point, I knew that something had to be done.
When I first came here in 1994, families could go to the store or the park without looking over their shoulders. Now the parks in our neighborhoods have police cars just monitoring us. Even at the church where I give food to the hungry, there are fewer people because of the intimidation they feel from nearby law enforcement who have been turned into immigration agents.
That sense of intimidation is spreading. A mother at the school my three children go to was told by a school employee they were going to have her deported. Everywhere we go now, we find harassment. It feels like everyone is looking and pointing at you just because youre brown.
That environment is what drove me to get involved in my community. Now were teaching undocumented people that they have rights and we can come together to get our loved ones and neighbors out of immigration detention centers. In Arizona, weve learned that theres no reason to be afraid when our community is united.
I know in my heart that something has to change and that undocumented people like myself are going to be the ones to do it. We just want to work and have a better life like anyone. Because of anti-immigrant state laws and federal programs, that isnt an option right now.
Were standing up to sheriffs like Arizonas Joe Arpaio and getting on a bus for a No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice that was to leave Phoenix this past weekend and will end at the Democratic National Convention in September.
Well confront our fears and well do peaceful civil disobedience at risk of being separated from our families to open our communitys eyes and to open the hearts of those who may not know what is happening to us.
Well come to Charlotte where we hope the president will be inspired by our example of courage. He has shown that he has the power to relieve our suffering. Were doing what we must for our children to have better lives and for those of us who have lived in the shadows to finally be included fully in this country. We hope those who have the power to make that happen will do more to make it real.