Meet josé & Ana
“Be careful,” another young man warned them. “Coyotes have a way of turning on you at the last second. Last time I tried to cross, mine held me hostage and called my parents for ransom. They had to borrow the money from relatives, and when they paid him, the coyote just dumped me at the border — I was still in Mexico!”
Ana stifled her tears as she listened to the boys’ stories, and José even tried to cover her ears. The doubts about their decision to migrate seemed to multiply by the minute.
“What if we make it but our babies don’t?” Ana whispered. “What if we can’t afford to bring them both? What if they get a bad coyote and we never see them again?”
“I know, mi amor,” José comforted. “I ask myself all the same questions. But right now we have to focus on the journey in front of us. One day at a time. Just keep telling yourself, one day at a time.”
“One day at a time,” Ana muttered half-heartedly.
The van slowed to a stop, and after a minute, the back door swung open and a gust of fresh air bathed their squinting faces.
“Where are we?” Ana asked, but no one responded.
“We must be near the border,” José whispered to her.
Meet Aaban & Aairah
“No country is perfect. We know that better than anyone. But the other thing you must understand is that no one wants to leave their home. The pain of leaving is almost unbearable. You leave only because you have to, because you have no other choice. And when you do, you may never find a place that feels like home ever again.”
The class was silent.
“Do you know what that feels like?” Aairah asked, looking directly at the boy from Colorado. “Do you know what it feels like to have no home? To not recognize yourself in the faces around you? To be constantly asked to explain and defend yourself, or your entire country, when all you've ever done is try to survive and try to help those around you survive?”
The boy simply shook his head no and looked down at his feet. Aaban beamed at his girlfriend, stunned by her poise and lucid words. Aairah was stunned too. Until then, she could barely open her mouth in front of a group of strangers. But in that moment she discovered a power she never knew she had.
Aairah found her voice.
Meet the McNaim's
The crowd clapped harder with every word, as if this truly was the greatest idea they’d ever heard. They cheered louder and louder, until their own voices swallowed his. The crowd was white, just like the McNaims. They were conservative, Christian, and pro-life, just like the McNaims. Soon the McNaims became one with the crowd and started chanting at their television.
“Build the wall!
Build the wall!
Build the wall!”
Only Ben, the youngest McNaim, wasn’t chanting.
“Wow! How did we never think of building a wall before?” he asked sarcastically. “What a genius! Isn’t there already a fence dividing Mexico and the US?” Ben raised one eyebrow. “Or did everyone just collectively decide to forget about that?” His parents, Paul and Karen, and his brother, Paul Junior, ignored him, eyes glued to the man at the podium.
Meet the idiot
“I will build the wall!” he assured them. “And one of my first acts will be to get all of the drug lords and all of the bad, bad people — the bad, bad hombres in this country — locked up. We'll get them out and secure the border, and once the border is secured, at a later date we'll decide what to do with the rest of them.”
By “them” he meant immigrants in general. He didn’t seem to hear the irony in his words, given that his own wife was an immigrant, and his own ancestors, and many of his friends and their ancestors. He saw all immigrants as “bad, bad hombres.” Dark-skinned drug smugglers with only bad intentions, or dangerous Arabs who were all Muslim jihadists.
“The left and the lamestream media, they want to twist my words to make me look like the bad guy. I’m not the bad guy. We all know who the bad guys are, and I’m the only one who’s not afraid to say it.”