Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be at a San Diego rally this evening, only 42 miles away from the renovated San Ysidro Port of entry. Despite the proximity, there is a group of supporters in Tijuana who will not be able to join the crowd at the San Diego Convention Center this evening because there is one thing that gets in their way – the US-Mexico border.
Last week I had a chance to meet members of the Dreamers Moms USA-Tijuana and the US Deported Veterans. Although I have visited Tijuana several times since I left in 2013, I avoided getting near the San Ysidro Port of Entry since. I really hate it. It is hard enough to see the border fence along the roads I used to pass by on a regular basis, so I usually limit going to the pedestrian crossing when I meet my friends visiting from Los Angeles. But this time I was invited to join these groups of deportee organizers I had heard so much about. They were planning a rally at largest crossing point in support of Bernie Sanders.
It wasn’t hard to find them. The pink T-shirts, the large white banners and the loud chats made them easy to identify from a distance. From the Mexican side of the border, the drivers heading to U.S. would see the group holding their “Women for Bernie”/“Feel the Bern” signs shout and chanting:
Bernie, Bring Deported Moms Home. Bring Them Home
Bernie, Bring Vets Home. Bring Them Home
…Not one more, deportation
Reunification, Not Deportation
… Ningún ser humano es illegal (No human being is illegal)
¿Que es lo que queremos? Regresar a casa (What do we want? To return home)
¿Cuando? ¡Ahora!¿ Cuando, cuando, cuando? (When?, now! When?, When?, When? Now! Now! Now!)
Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo (No Papers, No Fear)
Today, they will gather again at the border. Although they won’t be able to cross it, they hope their demands will.
I myself don’t “Feel the Bern”, nor any of the U.S. presidential candidates. Unfortunately, I know that supporting a campaign for a candidate who claims to support immigrants doesn’t translate into just immigration policies. I learned that the hard way after campaigning for Obama.
However, I do support these brave and resilient groups and their demands to return home with their families. They represent the voices post-deportation that need to be listened to not only by a presidential candidate but also by a movement in the U.S. that has failed to give them a space in their advocacy agenda.