Sunday, April 6, 2014-The Luther Place Community honored the life and ministry of Archbishop Oscar Romero during the 10am Joint Service in celebration of our Sister Synod of El Salvador. During the service Miriam Perlacio gave a testimony about the importance of comprehensive immigration reform and how the broken immigration system is affecting our community.
Good Morning, My name is Miriam Perlacio and I am here representing the parents of the Thomson Elementary School. I want to take the opportunity to give thanks to Luther Place, especially Pastor Karen Brau, Kristen Kane-Osorto, and each of you for the support that you give us as parents of Thomson. Your support has allowed us to have a bilingual coordinator Olga Salazar which is a big help especially for parents who need assistance with translation, the ESL classes held weekly here allow parents give us the opportunity to communicate better, and the camps during the winter, spring, and summer for the children have been a gift. My son had the opportunity to attend the winter camp and he loved it so much that he didn’t want to go back to Thomson but I would admit that it was minor problem. These camps are a great help for parents who during school breaks might not have the resources or people to look after their children during the long work hours they work, once again, thank you for supporting of these programs in this community. I also want to take a moment and connect our story at Thomson within a larger narrative.
Recently, I volunteered for Fast for Families, an organization that defends the rights of immigrants. This group is made up of activists, religious leaders, businesses, and dreamers from around the country. Issuing a call to the citizens of the US to join in solidarity and to support with action by fasting and praying so that we can achieve comprehensive immigration reform that would allow families like many of the ones represented at Thomson the opportunity to remain in this country, to keep their family units together and not live in fear of being deported. For many in our community the lack of legal status, produces about 20% of undocumented workers and their families who are unable to develop skillsets that would to ever get out of poverty. We all arrived in this country seeking an opportunity for a better life, to fulfill a dream. And I believe that dream can be realized. For many of us we see the US as a country of hope and opportunity, the realization of dreams we weren’t able to fulfill back home.
I believe that immigration reform is not a political question, but a question of showing our humanity and love for neighbor. My community has suffered a lot, many have families or friends that have died along the border because they wanted to come to the US to reunite with their families, sons or daughters that come to find parents who left them at a young age to find jobs so that they could provide for their families. These are human beings that come for a dream, a dream of prospering, of getting ahead, and putting their best forward and many die trying to fullfill it. Making the decision to come to this country is not easy one, its making a decision to leave everything you know and own behind, its a decision to arrive somewhere foreign, to begin from the bottom up, and enter a new culture and new language. We are people that want to succeed and have every desire to do so but because of our lack of documentation our dreams are shattered. We are people who are afraid of walking the streets out of fear of being arrested, deported, and risking that our kids are left behind and placed in foster homes all of this because we don’t our children to live what we experienced in our home country. Many of the parents have the hope that their children will lead a better life than theirs. Many of us come from countries where poverty is rampant, where wages are only 7 to 8 dollars for the whole day of work, sometimes even less. Many immigrants in this country work hard but a lack of documents creates the conditions for many to be exploited working hours without pay, sometimes at rates below the minimum wage, and if they speak up many are fired so they remain silent out of fear of being deported and separated from there families. As an immigrant I love this country as much as I love my own and I know that many parents at Thomson and other communities feel the same. We simply want the opportunity to show who we are are and that united we indeed can move this country forward.
Because of this I want to offer an opportunity for you to join us at an action on Wednesday, April 9th in front of the Capital Building organized by fast for families, the women who participated in a 48 hour fast, and others by signing up on www.webelongtogether.org, you can also support by calling members of congress at 877-683-6270 asking them to vote for immigration reform. I know many parents at Thomson would benefit from this, once again many thanks for your support and commitment.