This morning I got an e-mail from my employer to carry my Indian Passport, my ID, and my Work Visa papers with me, if I were to go to Arizona. Everyone knows by now, hopefully, about the passage of Arizona's SB1070.
I, for those who don't know, am a legal immigrant, in the United States to work until my Visa expires. First of all, I wasn't desperate to come to America. Work forced me to be here for six months and I thought, well, why not travel and explore a bit of America. But then the project got extended and extended for years and I thought, may be it’s not a bad idea to find a job here and work till my VISA expires. I made friends here, I met a lot of interesting people and I haven’t gone home since then.
A part of me wants me to go back, settle down and lead a quiet life with my family and friends around. But the other ‘rebel’ part of me, doesn’t want to settle. It wants to explore, it just wants to take the road less travelled and doesn’t want to succumb to pressures posed by my society. It just wants to be a free spirit. I, for some reason, don’t associate myself to a single group. I step back and look at both the sides and question myself to find what is right and what is wrong. Many a times, my decisions were right and so many a times, I have made wrong decisions. I learn from it and move on. A sculpture is just a rock, if it’s not beaten. At the end of the day, I want to be a sculpture, not rubble of stones. I want scars!
I’m a mere spectator of how my life unfolds.
Photography helps me to be that. A mere spectator! And last Saturday, I was a mere spectator at the City Hall, San Francisco. I have witnessed many rallies there. All I do is, get my coffee at the nearest Starbucks and my camera and sit under a tree and watch. And last week, I was lucky enough to watch the rally against the passage of SB 1070 law in Arizona.
SB 1070 is a new law recently passed by the State Legislature of Arizona that makes it a misdemeanor for foreign nationals to lack proper immigration papers. And that’s why employer wants me to carry my papers if I step in to Arizona.
There were thousands of people in the protest, mostly, South Americans, holding posters of Che Guevara and slogans on racism. Luckily I had my camera and I started shooting with a prime 50mm. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my wide angle at that time. I never knew about the rally first of all.
The interesting part of this protest was, there were people on both the sides. There were people who support Arizona’s SB 1070 law and there were people who oppose it. And I was in the middle watching this unfold. It was a silent protest in the beginning and as more and more people started gathering, it became out of control. People from the both sides started marching towards each other, shouting slogans against each other. It could have become a riot, but the cops had to intervene and stop it. And I was in the middle, with my camera, wondering, why, what, how, when? I don’t understand Spanish and I certainly don’t understand the tea baggers!
I’m a kid lost in the crowd.
It’s not easy to protect the American border. And it’s certainly not easy to stop someone who would defy death, cross the border, for his/her survival and his/her family.
And a reporter asked me for her online magazine, what I thought of this protest and here are some answers from me for her questions.
Do you think, Illegal immigrants as a threat ?
Who is not a threat here? I’m scared to walk in the streets of San Francisco, not because of an illegal immigrant being a threat to me, but because of the drunken citizens and people high on drugs. I’m scared of people who have guns! And I find it a bigger threat for me, my friends and my family here in the US, than an illegal immigrant. No and I don’t posses a gun.
Illegal immigrants take away our jobs. Right ?
No, they don’t. How can you compare yourself with them? You have an upper hand in many ways, language, and education to name some. They do those jobs, which you hesitate to take up. This is 2010 and we have to compete. It’s global and not local anymore. It’s time to compete. Wake up, brother!
SB 1070 coming from Arizona is heart breaking. Arizona, a Sanctuary City, is the first to reap the benefits from Mexico. Since NAFTA was enacted in 1994, Arizona has added a net 700,000 new jobs and real wages have risen. The state's unemployment rate today is lower than it was before NAFTA. About 25,000 mostly well-paying jobs in Arizona are directly tied to exports to Mexico and Canada, and thousands more jobs in transportation, banking, and finance are indirectly connected.
Why not America follow Dubai, when it comes to low wage laborers? Why can’t they have a Worker Visa system for low wage laborers? Give them duration to work legally here, and when it expires, let them go back. If they don’t, deport them. It is fair in this case. The workers don’t get exploited, like the way they are now. It is successful in United Arab Emirates, why not follow them. Yes, there are drawbacks in that system, but, we can modify to suit our needs, right?
I hope there will be a fair system in place, in which, both the sides gets benefit ! After all, no human, is illegal and by the way, imposing SB 1070 on people of Mexico, after reaping a lot of benefits through NAFTA, is not fair, Arizona.
Reporting live from San Francisco,
for my inner self,
this is ,