You might be asking yourself,
‘What’s the point of repeating these facts?’
Well, I’m here to let you know
we want to feel safe
whether we’re Brown, Asian or Black.”
José Bello, “Dear America”
In May, college student, farmworker, and activist José Bello recited this poem at a public forum of the Kern County Board of Supervisors in California (a forum for reporting and responding to the TRUTH ACT, a set of 2016 laws designed to protect immigrants). 36 hours after reciting his poem, Bello was arrested in his home by ICE and detained at Mesa Verde Detention Centre.
We stand in solidarity with José Bello and all those endangered by the violent enforcement of artificial borders. We condemn the targeting of the free speech of immigrant activists, from our friend Ravi Ragbir of New Sanctuary Coalition, to the organizers at Migrant Justice in Vermont, to Bello–an activist, student, and father. And we are grateful to the ACLU for representing Bello and Pen America for releasing information about his case. As faculty, students, and staff at a university, we feel a particular obligation to stand in solidarity with the poets, thinkers, teachers and students who exercise their right to speak, write, and create. We know that, to paraphrase the poet Audre Lorde, our silence will not protect us, and ask educational institutions, programs, institutes, and departments to join us in circulating Bello’s poem.
We also invite all to join us on July 12th, when we will gather with thousands of others in New York City and worldwide to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants. Please join us at 7 p.m. at Foley Square (or at one of many detention facilities around the US)