It's odd, growing up I held a deeply embedded fear of immigrant workers, of the men who wait on the street corner for a day's wage. As if they'd done something wrong, and that was why they didn't have a good job. They're the people that parents hustle their children away from, the ones I'd avoid eye contact with. Or, I'd just ignore them, like I had better things to do and they weren't people I wanted to socialize with. As a woman, especially, I feel that I've always had a deep mistrust of any male stranger I see, and this extended to people who I didn't recognize or know. In some ways this is probably a good thing for a child to have, but I recognize now that many people hold on to it even as they reach adulthood.
It's only in the past few years that I've learned to let myself smile and nod at people who I used to ignore. How difficult it is to see people as people sometimes, how easy it is to throw up the fences and protect ourselves, how simple to craft ourselves into what we think the world should see, and become blind to what we really are. This simple fear is so minor compared to what some people experience, and yet I find it rules me easily.
I say this not because I know the solution, or fully understand the complexity of the situation and the fullness of the debate over illegal immigration to the US, but simply to recognize that everyday we are lucky just to be here, knowing our families are at home, and that when we come in to work tomorrow morning, nobody will come to take us away.