speech by dagoberto flores
May 1st, 2014

All immigrants, receive a cordial greeting from the United Salvadorans of Oregon, SALUDO. This day is a very special day. This is a day when the streets of many cities in the United States are dressed in democracy. And not only in the United States, but also in other parts of the world marches are held to celebrate it. And that is why this day is special, because it is ours, workers ‘day, immigrants’ day.

This day marks 128 years since the heroic days of Chicago workers, who bequeathed the 8-hour workday to future generations. His sacrifices are recognized today by many workers around the world. It is International Workers’ Day. In those years they worked up to 16 hours a day and had no time left to share with their
families. One of them wrote a poem to his son, which goes like this:

I have a little boy at home
a young son;
sometimes i think the world is mine
in it, my only world …

Every morning my work calls me;
it is even at night that I have time;
I am a stranger to my son
and strange is my son to me …

All labor conquests cost sacrifice. We Salvadorans know that. Our country suffered a civil war from 1980 to 1992. They were twelve violent years. Many compatriots left the country fleeing the horror of the bullets and the bombings. Many of them came to this country and settled here. They waged a fight of a different character. With the support of the Baptist Church, they were granted temporary status, known as TPS. That was in 1991.

From there, the TPS has been granted for the natural disasters that have occurred in the Central American area. Our compatriots can work here, but they have no future since at any moment that migratory status could end. So much so that every time there are presidential elections in El Salvador, the TPS is used as a pressure mechanism to favor certain presidential candidates. Thus, the migratory status of Salvadorans becomes a political weapon that violates the sovereignty of El Salvador.

That is why we Salvadorans are in favor of immigration reform. An immigration reform that takes into account the economic and cultural contribution that immigrants make in this country and that leads them towards the path of citizenship.

If in 1886 the immigrants came from Europe and China, the immigrants we are fighting now come, the majority, from this same continent. This is the American continent and therefore all of us who were born on this continent are Americans. Here there are no Salvadoran-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Guatemalan-Americans, etc., here we are all Americans because we were born on this continent and its name is the American Continent.

Man left Africa more than 60,000 years ago and he arrived on this continent later. There were no seas, or immense that they were, or glaciers however cold they were, that stopped the human spirit. Animals migrate and they do so by traveling great distances looking for the means to guarantee the future of their new generations. They follow the cycle of the seasons, stealing from the droughts and following the rains. The monarch butterfly migrates between Canada and Mexico making stopover or nesting in the United States. Perhaps animals and insects have more freedom to migrate than humans have in these times.

Why does this happen? Why does a country that claims itself as the panacea of democracy build a wall to prevent migratory movements? Why can’t a person who works here and who pays taxes be recognized as a citizen of this country? How is it possible that immigrants are denied their driver’s licenses, putting the safety of other citizens at risk? Why would a president who repeated “Yes, we can” to us during his first campaign, go down in history as one of the presidents who has deported the most immigrants?

We could go on asking questions here, but that is not the case. What corresponds to us as inhabitants of this time and of this place is to fight for the rights of immigrants, be it immigration reform, be it the driver’s license, be it the right to health, be it the passage to the citizenship. That is what corresponds to us, just as the workers of 128 years ago had to fight for us to enjoy the 8-hour workday.