If conservatives only knew…
It was around 11pm, insanely cold, and rows of people were lined up on the sidewalk of the Greyhound station in El Paso trying to sleep last week.
As I was walking back to our rental truck for more supplies, I saw someone dart up from the ground - a young Hispanic man, probably around 23 - he looked directly at me and with the biggest smile just yelled out, “I LOOOOOOOVE AMERICA!!!”
On a night, when I’d witnessed such suffering, this outburst made me laugh out loud. I returned his sentiment with a warm smile and kept going on about my business.
My instinctual laugh came from witnessing something that looked like such a blatant contradiction.
Like, how could he “love America” in that moment? How had this type of treatment, this quite literal “cold welcome” to our country, this night of suffering that most of us couldn’t bear, made this man so happy? Well, because he was finally here, and that’s all that mattered.
I know plenty of Patriotic people, but I’ve never been one myself. The closest I‘be come is my love for Texas, but you’ll never see me wearing anything red, white, and blue.
Yet, here this man was, perhaps the most patriotic person I’ll ever encounter, with Uncle Sam doing his darnedest to make America as unappealing as possible to him… but it wasn’t gonna work.
Later that night, when I relayed this story to Karina, she also laughed and offered her own story in return. A few months ago, a group of reporters and documentary film makers had followed us around Juárez. At one point Karina opened her packed trunk to gather the “go-bag” of baby supplies and feminine hygiene items she carries everywhere, and one of the documentarians commented on how he was surprised her car was such a piece of sh*t. It was a friendly jab, and we all laughed about it, but she reminded me about that moment from months earlier, then said the other night when she’d picked up a mother and her small children, the kids got into that same car and said, “Este carro esta faboloso!” - “This car is fabulous!” 😂
She actually gets that a lot - a car with heat in the winter and A/C in the summer - it’s a huge luxury for these families. They’ve never seen anything like it!
Their perspective is just totally different.
And last night, unfortunately Karina saw perhaps the most glaring juxtaposition of these two perspective - the comfortable America, and the suffering migrant.
She’d agreed to find shelter for 2 pregnant women, 3 babies, and 3 toddlers. It was late. All of the shelters were already at capacity when these families arrived at the Greyhound.
In these instances, we have no choice but to join the other organizations out there and look for low cost motels, because Karina will never leave a child or pregnant woman out on the streets.
She reached out to me around 11:45… an hour when all of these babies should’ve been tucked warmly into bed.
They’d found the motel, booked 4 rooms online and were headed there after getting the other families into Ubers since her fabulous, rundown, heated, piece of crap car could only hold so many.
However, when they all arrived they were told the rooms were no longer available.
The children and their mothers just stood there in the lobby as she argued with the ambivalent front desk person.
She frustratedly messaged me saying, “I don’t want to be an ‘Activist Karen’ right now, but my blood is boiling.”
I feel so powerless now that I’m back in Dallas, but one thing I could do in that moment was be the ‘Activist Karen’ for her. I called the motel, demanded to speak to the manager… like, quite literally… and then told them I needed to know exactly what requirements we hadn’t met. I wanted their answer on the record. They responded that while yes, they technically *had* the rooms, they hadn’t been cleaned, so the booking site simply messed up. 🙄
I relayed this to Karina and she said that was absolutely a lie because she and the other volunteers had watched them give rooms to people just walking in while they stood their waiting for their reservations to be fulfilled.
At this point it was whatever, she had to move on. I told her to just find the next cheapest place on Expedia, but instead she called them to tell them what had happened and Expedia made it right.
They ended up transferring the reservations a different place, and not just any place but to an “Americas Hotel” property. She said the whole lobby was red, white, and blue, and when the moms walked in they said it was way nicer than the other place.
Now was it? I have no idea… but to them, to these women who have sacrificed so much to come to a place where they would finally be able to keep their babies safe… this hotel was paradise.
From now on, whenever I hear someone mention the “American Dream,” I will think about the good night’s sleep these families got at the Americas Hotel and the beautiful dreams I hope they were able to have out of the cold as they rested.
If conservatives would only embrace a humane pathway to citizenship, I’m telling you, it might be the only thing that keeps their party from disappearing completely. Because you WILL NOT meet people more patriotic, more in love with America and all that she is, than migrants. ❤️🤍💙