MCC Delegation Learning Tour: Friday, May 23 – Sunday, May 25, 2008.
Excuse me, sir, you’re in my seat. I waved my boarding pass as evidence only to find that the gentleman in my seat had the same seat assignment. One moment I was seat-less, standing in front of the cabin and convinced we would miss our flight to Phoenix. Minutes later, I found myself walking to a seat in first class. On my way, I noticed Sen. Joe Lieberman, and asked to have my picture taken with him. He asked me if I’d like to meet his neighbor across the aisle, Governor Mitt Romney (former Republican presidential candidate)!
I found my seat, but I was too busy to enjoy the leather comfort. My brain raced. Part of my work entails speaking with congressional staff. Was this not a great opportunity to speak with a senator and governor about the Migrant Trail? I confided in the stranger next to me and she responded “more power to me,” then moved over so I could make my way towards Lieberman and Romney. Gabe, however, seemed shocked that I would want to talk to Romney about the Migrant Trail, considering the strongly anti-immigrant sentiments he expressed during the Republican primaries. I sat down, not completely satisfied, but agreeing with Gabe that talking to the politicians wasn’t the wisest thing.
Fast forward to the next evening. Having spent a day in Mexico, our delegation was reflecting on what we had seen. One of the questions was what we wanted to do with what we experienced that day. The common response from the delegation was the hope of sharing what we saw with friends, family, communities (and, in our case, Congress). But our reflection time begged the question of how do we talk to folks who may disagree with our beliefs of just policies? Why should I have felt that it was too risky to talk to Gov. Romney? How do we find ways of communicating our beliefs to policy makers (and others) in an effective, truthful, and loving way? One possibility, I think, is by sharing stories of those affected by unjust policies. Like Daniel’s.
We met Daniel at the Arizona-Mexico border, and he told us that he was planning on crossing the border. Crossing, again, that is. He had already walked through the desert several times and worked for periods of time in various states, until he was caught and deported to Mexico. He told us that jobs were hard to come by in Mexico, one of the key root causes that drives migrants to make a dangerous journey to the United States. Like many migrants, Daniel had to walk to survive.
In my future encounters with politicians, I will not hesitate to share stories. Perhaps we may disagree on policies. But it is harder to disagree with to disregard the human faces; the stories of those who are affected by the policies in place. Hopefully, in sharing stories and experiences, we can move towards having meaningful conversations with Congress, leading towards the implementation of policies which uphold humanity.