I’ll never forget what I learned from my nonregistered Spanish speaking friends from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They were bold and optimistic. Naive but intelligent. They always looked scared when they talked about the countries they left, or sad. But they seemed happy to be here. On the job site, they were so hard to impress, I had to carry double the brush and walk twice as fast before they stopped making fun of me. They were generous and laughed constantly. They never ever ever complained, even when a supervisor literally rubbed dog doo on one of them. They taught me real Spanish, the kind people use, not the textbook. I don’t care if they are law breakers. My Central American friends spent their whole lives under a government they were afraid of. They were taught by their parents to fear their government. When they came to a foreign country, they were too scared to present themselves. I don’t blame them. At this point, I’m scared too. But mostly sad. I’m not scared for them, because I know them, and they will face deportation with patience and calm. They will not complain or ask for any favors. They will think about their aging parents or wives or children who they are about to see, and they will smile. Or, if they are viejo, they will be hopeful that if they survive the trip, they will get to die in their birthland. Because that is their life, and they love life. Adios compañeros.
With just one other friend, I visited six Spanish speaking churches throughout Nacogdoches in a single day. We distributed 200 copies of an ACLU brochure which details what to do if approached by police, ICE, DEA or FBI in your home, car or street side. Even those without papers have rights in the U.S. Many thanked me and assured me they would make copies. Click below for a PDF of the brochure, “Know Your Rights,” in Spanish and English.