Un dia sin inmigrantes
(Names changed to protect privacy)
I’m sleepy this morning. My alarm went off at 6:30 am after a fitful night of dreaming that I would be late. I’m a musician with a day job — I work part time for my father. He owns his own print shop and has two full time employees and a couple part time employees. My usual schedule is to work in the afternoons, but today, I’m here before the sun is up.
Quilting is on my mind as I drive. I think about quilting a lot when it comes to immigration. That may seem odd, but I see a distinct connection there. I think about the different styles of quilts — orderly quilts with strictly defined borders that set apart the rich colors in the blocks, highlighting the beauty of the patterns. I also think about my favorite type, the crazy quilt.
These are quilts that don’t have orderly blocks set apart with strips of fabric. It’s a quilt with no borders where the colors and textures and patterns run wild in riotous beauty. But more than anything, I think about how these two styles of quilts are built in the same way — the first step is to tediously sew all the little pieces together with stitches that nobody will ever see (unless a seam rips).
That’s the thing about immigrants in this country, both legal and illegal. So many of them are those invisible stitches that no one sees, holding things together, doing important and necessary jobs. I think of the agriculture industry — so much of the food we consume is planted, picked and packed by immigrants. I think of the construction industry — so many of the houses that we live in are designed and built by immigrants. And I think of my dad’s print shop, where one absence causes things to unravel a little bit.
It’s a day without immigrants, and Sarah is not here to open as she usually does. She is participating in a day without immigrants, as she is first generation and many of her friends and family are immigrants. She didn’t have to tell us, she didn’t have to let me know so I could come in early to cover. But she did, because she knows how hard it is to run a small business without one staff member present. She knows that things will unravel a little bit.
It’s a necessary hurt, and one that I am proud and humbled to feel this morning. We have to see those open seams and understand that our country needs immigrants and do our part to stand up with them and support them as they support us. That’s the thing about open seams — they can always been fixed if you care enough to take the time.
Thank you to Sarah and all of the immigrants who make our country strong and vibrant!