Song for the Immigrants

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Inspired by the National Day of Action, April 10, 2006

by Todd Lee

They march

Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands
filling the streets with their humanity, risking lost jobs, de-
portation, their bold steps
like many of their journeys here,
across deserts of death, on rafts across the Caribbean, baking in metal containers
in cargo ships across the Pacific, or on airplanes to places they could only imagine.
But it isn’t just like they pictured it, as Stevie Wonder would say.
The gold mountain
may not be fool’s gold, but it surely is hollow, it’s
gold-plated.

But yet they march,

Like they get through their lives,
living paycheck to paycheck,
but sending half that paycheck home.
Working in fields, in hotel laundries, in sweatshops, in restaurants, in companies cleaning.
Working two, three jobs, paying taxes, but shying away from government
services, giving much more
to this country they came to
than they take away.

They fall sometimes, they get up.

Like their countrymen and countrywomen,
who came here, brought in to do the hardest jobs
on farms in California, building the railroad from east to west, toiling and sweating, and working
only to find the same country
that brought them here shuts the door hard,
excludes them, attacks them as wetbacks,
makes political hay out of their mere presence, these workers
brought to the country to work hard.

They fell sometimes, they got up.

And across the U.S., as they march, the feeling is one of immense potential power.
All these working hands, all these people born in different countries,
walking their walks, flying their colors, talking in the languages they brought
with them, or their second language, waving flags of the country
they helped build, are building. Some joking, laughing with joy at the thousands with them,
Some serious, determined, on a mission shared with millions of missionaries.

Hope
Is in the air.

As they stream into Copley Square, the biggest demonstration Boston has ever seen, waves and waves of people coming, filling the big square to overflowing, even after you thought, surely
there couldn’t be more people.

And yet, they march -
and hope is in the air.

Hope, today, is not a thing with feathers or anything
flying.
Hope, today, has a million feet, and is
marching, marching

for equality and justice.