It began on 1/25/2018 after I'd been watching TV for 3 weeks as the Senate debated a rider which would have given legal status & a pathway to citizenship to DREAMers, young people who came to the US in the 1990’s & early 2000’s as minors; their average age was 3 years old.
Senators introduced five riders, all of which they knew at the outset had no chance of ever becoming law. Theywere using these young immigrants as pawns in their battle for political leverage. I was angry, very angry—but I was also very frustrated; I didn’t know what to do.
Then something happened. A voice spoke to me from deep within. Perhaps it was God, perhaps my conscience. The voice said to me: “You are not a bad person, although you have done a few pretty bad things in your lifetime.
"You have tried to do what is right, you have tried to help other people. You have always been on the edge of trying, trying, trying. But trying is no longer enough. It is late in the game, this may be your last chance.
"It is time for you to step across the line, to help these young immigrants who you believe are being done a grave injustice.” And very strangely, the voice ended with the words of the fictional old Yoda, “’Do or do not. There is no try.’”
And I replied, “But what can I do, a bent over 78-year-old man with a back that is always in pain, severe scoliosis, spinal stenosis and a high, squeaky voice…” --my conscience interrupted me, replying clearly with one, single word, “Walk”.
I have been walking and sitting on a busy corner in my neighborhood with my sign for the past 617 days, one and a half hours each day, since January 25th, 2018.
At first for the DREAMers, but now for all of the 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in America, for refugees at the border and for parents and children who have been separated.
I hope to send a message to American citizens and to the world that immigrants are not criminals, that immigrants are not welfare cheats, that immigrants are not responsible for all of our country’s problems.
Immigrants have a lower crime rate than American citizens. Immigrants are hard-working, industrious citizens-in-fact if not in-law, who contribute mightily—mightily—to the economic, cultural and social well-being of this nation.
Yet, despite my efforts, no action has been taken to help immigrants. To the contrary, immigrants have been demonized during the past two years by a false and dangerous narrative.
The situation reached a tipping point for me in June of this year when hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent young children were held in detention centers under inhumane, degrading conditions. They were deprived of the basic necessities of life.
No bathing facilities, no clean clothes, no diapers for babies, cold all night long, lights on all night long, sleeping on concrete floors, so crowded that they could not sit down...
...insufficient food, warehoused, as many as 300 children in a cell, children caring for other younger children, a flu outbreak & a lice infestation, etc. Almost all of the children had been separated from their parents.
Enough is enough. On June 27th, with two other 80-year old men, I engaged in an act of civil disobedience as a display of our outrage at the treatment of these children by our own government.
We blocked the entrance to the Federal Building in Hartford which houses the Immigration Court. We were arrested by Federal Officers and issued citations. I declined to pay the fine and was assigned a trial date.
I will continue to decline to pay a fine or post bail and will accept what the consequences may be. When the law of any nation, including my own, collides with the moral law, I will always abide by the moral law. I can do no less.