Invitation to Stand With Arizona
by Fernando Trevino on August 5, 2010 at 3:03 PM
On July 31st, 2010, I participated in the National Immigration Policy Summit and the Stand With Arizona rally hosted by Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce at the Arizona State Capitol Complex in Phoenix. When I was initially invited, I was definitely excited and ready to go; why wouldn’t I be excited? It isn’t every day that a college student is invited to participate in a policy summit on such a hot-button issue, and I was honored that anybody wanted to hear my thoughts on an issue that hits so close to home for me.
The decision to participate was not an easy choice for me; I had advice and criticism pouring in from everywhere all of a sudden and, to be honest, it was a bit overwhelming. In order to make some sense of everything, I relied heavily on prayer and in the end God was the only one who had any major influence on my decision! Oddly enough though, there were some critics who felt that they knew what was in my heart better than I do.
The biggest criticism was that I was going to be participating in an event hosted by FAIR and NumbersUSA, whose leaders have a pro-abortion and environmentalist agenda that I do not agree with. While the leaders of the organizations hold beliefs that I do not agree with, the organizations are concerned with illegal immigration and were invited to give their opinions just as I was. The reality, which my critics could not see, was that neither organization was sponsoring the event and was only sending a representative to participate in one seminar each! I was asked to participate in two seminars as an individual, so these organizations had no more involvement in the summit than I did, and I obviously wasn’t considered a sponsor. The point of a summit is not to have a bunch of people who agree 100 percent; a summit is meant to open discussion and have people with differing views yet a similar goal come together in search of a solution.
Call me naive, but despite all of the criticism, I felt it was important for me to go for a variety of reasons. I am a 19 year old college student who was born and raised on the border and a proud American of Hispanic decent. This event was perfect for me, especially since the media has fabricated a myth that Latinos and my generation are staunchly opposed to Arizona’s immigration law.
I admit that at first I was wary of SB1070, but after I read the law, I didn’t see what the big deal was. To be honest with you, I don’t know anyone who was frightened by the law once they looked into it. Having grown up on the border, the majority of my friends are Hispanic (and obviously young. Despite my involvement in politics, realize that I just graduated high school a little over a year ago). SB1070 was one of the few political events that I kept quiet on at first, but then all of a sudden, I was hearing my friends talk about it and it surprised me they didn’t feel threatened by it. Even my most liberal friends had the mentality that it isn’t about race--it’s about following the law! It’s as simple as that, yet many in the media wanted to spread fear into Hispanic communities.
A bunch of college kids understood that the law’s intent was to make sure that immigrants came to this country the proper way, so it puzzles me that so many supposed smart people could not fathom the idea. When I was presented with the opportunity to speak at several seminars to activists and legislators from across the nation, I felt that I had a responsibility to make sure they got the truth! It didn’t matter to me that so-and-so was upset with me; what mattered was that people heard my message and my message was that this debate shouldn’t be about left vs. right, about race, or about personal egos. This debate is about the United States of America! I did not agree with everything that everyone said at the summit, but I knew how important it was to get my point of view out there to contribute to the political dialog on such an important issue.