An Immigrant's Hope for the Future
Today, the L.A. Times features an article about an immigrant activist and her hopes for the incoming administration. Victoria Vergara is from Southern Mexico and has not only created a life for herself as a U.S. Citizen, but is actively engaged in our country's political process. From her role as a shop steward in her LA Union, to her participation in immigrant rights rallies, actions and even Obama's campaign, Vergara exemplifies the Southern California immigrant activist. And Vergara is confident that the incoming administration - specifically new Labor Secretary Hilda Solis - will not let her (or her immigrant community) down.
"Hilda is a very humble and down-to-earth person," Vergara told me in Spanish. "I don't think I'm wrong about her. She's not a person who will ever turn her back on us."
When Obama nominated Solis to his Cabinet, it was a deep bow of respect in the direction of Los Angeles and its working people. Obama was acknowledging, albeit indirectly, the power of the Southern California labor movement, a strength that's been built with the sweat and struggle of immigrant workers like Vergara.
The artcile also quotes Solis:
"My vision of the Department of Labor is rooted in who I am," Solis said Friday at her Senate confirmation hearing in Washington. "The fact that I'm sitting before you today as a child of an immigrant family, a working family, is proof that in America anything is possible."
It is with this hopeful tone that we are entering the new administration next week. January 20th will mark a new day for immigrants in this country. As Obama takes office, we move ever closer to the promise of Just and Humane Immigration Reform. Vergara has personally asked Obama to remember immigrants.
It was on behalf of her fellow immigrants that Vergara slipped a note into Obama's shirt pocket during an October campaign rally in Reno. She was in Nevada working with union activists on his campaign.
"I asked him in Spanish not to forget us immigrants, and to work to get us legalization," she said. "But I'm sure that note ended up at the dry cleaners."
Maybe not, I said. She gave a conspiratorial grin and raised her eyebrows at the possibility.
"I'd like to know if he read it," she said. "I'm going to pray that one day I find out."