pathway to citizenship
I have always loved baseball. Growing up on the mean streets of East Los Angeles, baseball was the one activity that kept me away from the pitfalls many young Latino males face on a daily basis. Summer days were spent—sunrise to sunset—in makeshift sandlots in the shadows of Dodger Stadium, fielding bad-hop grounders and striping screaming line drives. It was our neighborhood pastime.
On the occasion when enough coins were scraped up to venture into the venerable cathedral, Dodger Stadium, our baseball heroes paraded before us on this hallowed turf. Our childhood heroes were rarely categorized according to ethnicity and nation of origin but always according to the color of their uniform, Dodger Blue. It was the name on the front of the uniform that mattered, not the back.
As maturity set in and the complexity of national racial issues manifested themselves with the social unrest of the late 1960s, I came to a deeper understanding of the diverse and painful racialized world in which I lived. Baseball was not the safe and immune haven I had first imagined. I became aware of the once segregated Negro Leagues and the painful history of Jackie Robinson, the first Black player to integrate into the “major leagues.” I also realized that even in my English speaking, Mexican-American home, I too was not nationally normative. I was Mexican-American, Latino, Hispanic, Chicano (albeit, born in the United States) and spoke with a distinct accent that immediately identified me as such which, in this country, included labels like wetback, beaner, spic[!], etc.
It was about this time that my relationship with the national pastime took an interesting turn. As much as I wanted to focus on the name on the front of the uniform, I couldn’t help but notice the names on the back of the uniform. Cepeda, Clemente, Marichal, Tiant, and Concepción all became a part of my racialized purview. This realization came to full fruition with the onset of Fernandomania in the 1980s.
As support for immigration reform grows, Catholic college and university presidents from across the country have joined the movement.
Last Thursday, more than 90 influential presidents released a letter calling on the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. Taking into account the growing Catholic makeup in Congress, which has reached a historic high, presidents from the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, and The Catholic University of America joined the chorus calling for appropriate moral and practical action to take place on the issue.
On Jan. 17, faith leaders, DREAMers, and community leaders from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to launch a new Campaign for Citizenship — an effort to pressure Congress to enact reform that prioritizes citizenship.
The Campaign for Citizenship, a project of PICO National Network, invited our country’s leaders to gather and view the “Separated Families Supper Table.” At the table gathered DREAMers and clergy next to empty seats representing the millions of homes around the country experiencing family separation as a result of our broken immigration system.
As each member at the table spoke, they expressed how every day, families like theirs have to sit at their dinner tables and try to cope with the fact that a family member is missing. They have to live in constant worry for their family member’s safety and well-being in a distant land that is oftentimes unfamiliar to them. Families are experiencing real loneliness and grief.