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WE COUNT FINAL

WE COUNT FINAL

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Published by Steven Donahue
Inside the USA Immigration Debate
Inside the USA Immigration Debate

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Published by: Steven Donahue on Jun 12, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/01/2013

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WE COUNT!
 
“Si se puede!”
Steven Donahue immerses himself in the immigrantCommunities of South Florida on May Day, 2007
 
and the ImmigrantExperience in Homestead, Florida and draws some pointed conclusionsabout the debate over immigration to America.Final May 5, 2007
Language MagazineWords: 1736
Figure 1 We Count! May Day Rally
Krome Avenue
There is no
Statue of Liberty
with open arms at OneKrome Avenue for the tempest-driven newcomers to America,but a sole yellow diamond sign that reads, rathersymbolically— 
Rough Road Ahead 
.Krome Avenue lay in the fruited plains between Miamiand the Everglades in Homestead, Florida. That agricultural
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cornucopia would wither without Mexican and Guatemalanmigrant workers, who indeed are a long way from home, andpay a personal price in their harvesting abroad. However,even after surviving the wrath of Hurricane Andrew a decadeago, an anti-immigration storm pelting undocumented workersis now knelling the bitterest of tolls.Mexican and Haitian men walk Krome streets in the hotFlorida sun, shrouding eye contact with anyone who looksAnglo, for fear of being carded for “papers”. Palm-linedKrome Avenue is decorated with immigration lawyers, MexicanRestaurants (actually, the best in Florida), non-profitorganizations for migrant workers, and money transferplaces: which keep Haiti and Mexico financially afloat. Infact, remittances to immigrants’ homelands constitute threepercent of Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product, and a whopping23 percent for the world’s first black republic--Haiti.There are normally two sound patterns to theFlagstaff-paved streets of Old Homestead’s Krome Avenue. Inthe early and late hours, one hears the soothing cooing ofbountiful flocks of doves perched on iridescentBougainvilleas. Then these tattooed-sounds are replaced bythe urgent slap of rubber tires humming to and from thefields, packed with migrant workers.May 1, 2007 echoed a different traffic pattern. Fordpickup trucks, emblazoned with Mexican flags, and morehumble vehicles bearing the Haitian flag began to coalesce,summoned by the church bells pealing at 7:00 p.m., after
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the burning sun completed its arc from Atlantic to the Gulfof Mexico: dusk signaling work in the fields done.The main hall of the
Cornerstone Ministries
, whosemotto is “The Church where Love abides”( 1 Corinthians B),quickly overflowed with a darkish blur of men, women, andchildren, intent on advocating fair immigration practices.And also dovetailing with the coast-to-coast events held onMay Day. This is ground zero for immigration reform inHomestead:
 We Count!— 
the headquarters for an action groupencompassing all immigrant ethnicities.The meeting is convened cattycorner to Krome Avenue,home of the infamous
Krome Detention Center
for allrefugees caught entering or being here without documents.Krome Avenue, with an Abu Gharb-like reputation, is evenmore infamous for rendering apartheid-like treatment ofCuban and Haitian detainees. Under the Cuban RepatriationAct, when a Cuban touches American soil it is a
touchdown 
to citizenship and benefits. For the vast majority ofHaitians (and Mexicans and Central Americans) it is a
touchback 
as they are often (unceremoniously) banishedhome. Former US Senator Bill Graham (D-Florida) tried toremedy this disparate treatment for years, to no avail.
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