Barnstable Democrats Raise Awareness on Local and National Immigration Issues
The BDTC was excited to host a forum on immigration last Wednesday, June 7th, so that our Cape Cod community could get a greater sense of what immigrants face in our country and on a local level on Cape Cod. But it wasn't just all about strife. We also heard about immigrants contribute—how we've thrived as a community with their presence and how we would lose as a nation by excluding them.
We're proud to say that the forum was a great success!
More than 100 people attending to hear the story of local Cape Cod residents who immigrated to this country from Pakistan, Jamaica, Brazil, Canada, and Columbia.
Panelists included Collin Mickle from the Immigration Resource Center, Liza Ryan with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition who spoke about their agencies and how they're now needed at unprecedented levels.
Liza shared her firsthand experience of children faking illnesses because they're afraid their parents will be gone when they come home if they leave for school. She also mentioned that parents aren't getting children vaccinated for fear that taking them to the doctor will put them "in the system".
That deep and very real fear drives immigrant communities into deep isolation because they are too afraid to be a part of the country they love. And it doesn't hurt just them, it weakens us as a nation and we put everyone at risk by treating people as if they're less than us and undeserving of being here.
The immigration forum also busted the popular myth that immigrants who come here with illegal documentation are somehow getting a free ride.
Immigrants have documentation, they need documentation to have a job which means they have a social security number—legitimate or not—and the taxes that are taken out of their checks go into OUR system. They don't see a dime of it returned to them as social security. The money they make is made here and spent here in our local communities, helping to keep our sensitive local economic system thriving.
Our lives are enriched with the cultures that immigrants bring here.
Can you imagine a summer on Cape Cod without the Provincetown Portuguese Festival & Blessing of the Fleet? Or missing out on the handmade baklava at the St. George's Grecian Festival in Centerville? How much would our art community lose out on without the talented artist that participate in Cape Cod's International Film Festival at the Chatham Orpheum Theater in Chatham?
It's unthinkable to imagine modern Cape Cod without the rich heritage of an immigrant population. It's what we're made of. It's who we are. Let us all be there for one another instead of thinking of people different from ourselves as The Other.