El 20 de abril leí un testimonio ante el Comité de Asuntos Jurídicos del Congreso de Maine. Un testimonio de inmigrante en oposición al proyecto legislativo 366, que pretende hacerle la vida más difícil a los inmigrantes que no son blancos. Perdonen mi inglés.
My name is Marco Avilés. I am a writer, I work in Lewiston as an interpreter, and I was Born in Perú. I am a latino and also an immigrant in this country, same as most of you or your ancestors. And I am here today because I am against the Bill 366. I don’t like its spirit.
My wife is from Maine. She is a radio producer and worked and lived in South America for almost ten years. And as an immigrant there, she was never afraid of the law enforcement. She was never called an immigrant. She was never treated as an immigrant. Our countries are friendly with people that come from abroad. I invite you all to visit Machu Picchu. You won’t need a visa.
The experience is different for me in this country. Everywhere I go (a party, the supermarket, Dunkin Donuts), I am asked: where are you from? Is it because I have a tattoo in my forehead that says “Immigrant”? No. It is because the color of my skin. Being brown, as I am, is a sign that people read. I don’t need to speak, I don’t need to reveal my accent, to be consider a foreigner. Sometimes, without even knowing me, people ask me: Are you legal?
Of course, my wife was never asked this question in Peru. We receive 4 million tourists every year. 1 million come from this country. And a lot of this people fell in love with Peru and decide to stay to live (we have a great cusine). One of every ten foreigners who decide to stay in Peru as immigrants come from the United States. Isn’t that crazy? Have you ever heard of an American being called “illegal”. No. That word, that spirit, that obsession is not important to us.
I am brown, I am “legal”, I feel vulnerable. I feel vulnerable every time I go to a diner in a rural town and people start looking at me. Does any have a gun?, I ask to myself. I feel vulnerable every time I go to a hospital and nurses that say hi to white people don’t say hi to me. Are they scared? Are they mad I am here? I feel also vulnerable every time I see a police officer. And I feel that way not because I am doing bad things. I feel that way because of the paranoia that is spreading more and more in this country, and this Bill is part of that paranoia.
Reading this bill I feel vulnerable. I feel vulnerable for me and I feel vulnerable for the children that I will have. If they are brown, will people ask them about their immigration status? Will they need to carry their ID’s in order to feel safe every time they interact with an officer?
Some people might say this is only about immigration. But it is not. It’s about race. I have friends who were born in Europe and now live in Maine and they don’t feel like me. They are white. They are not treated as immigrants. They are not asked where they came from. They are not asked: “are you legal?”.
Instead of making Maine a more friendly and modern state to live, this Bill is doing the opposite. This bill is making Maine a ghetto. G-h-e-t-t-o. A whit ghetto, I mean.