Our family stood in solidarity with a group of Latinos on a downtown square in Hollister, California, yesterday. They were there to protest current, hot-button proposed new immigration policies that, among other things, would: make it a felony to be an illegal immigrant; entail stepped up deportation of illegal immigrants; significanlty increase fines to employers hiring illegal immigrants; add more secure fencing and stronger “virtual fences” (more border patrol in the air, on the ground…). The group in Hollister comprised one of numerous protests around the country over the weekend, including a phenomenal 500,000 person turn-out in Los Angeles… Hollister’s Cynthia Lee told me she believed Latinos do jobs Whites won’t do, especially in the fields. “You don’t see White farm workers in the fields, period,” she said. (Adding emphasis to Ms. Lee’s statement, more than 100 farm groups have joined together as the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform and are rallying for change that acknowledges a reliance on immigration labor, according to a Sacramento Bee newspaper article.)… Hollister’s Gabriella Recollos told me her people work, raise families, go to church and pay taxes. “And all we want is peace and equal rights,” she said. Ms. Recillos held a sign that read: “I’m not illegal, if you check the history — I’m in my territory.” This is a reference to a time when a good part of California (Texas, Arizona…) was Mexican territory. [I said to my wife Liz that given what we did to the Native Americans “…we’re actually all illegals.”]… Fernando Perez, a Hollister website designer, was also protesting at the square. He said Americans sometimes look at immigration through a rather myopic lens. That is, “they seldom put themselves in our shoes.” Mr. Perez said he was referring to all those who risk everything to come to this country, barely being able to scrape by in taking care of their families (both here and in Mexico), and so on. This is not an issue of criminality, it’s an issue of human rights, he said. “We don’t want pity,” Mr. Perez continued. “We want justice.” He added that he believed if an illegal immigrant has been in America for a time and has been a law abiding citizen who is a contributing member to his community, there should be a provision where he is allowed to become a citizen. Our administration would believes this too, and would push for amnesty. (See our position paper on Hispanic immigration.) Note: Mr. Perez said Mexicans, for instance, often come to America because of poverty in Mexico. We saw this abject poverty first-hand on a research trip to Juarez, Mexico, several years ago. Some 200,000 people in Juarez were living in cobbled together shacks, no running water, no electricity. Parents were working in multi-national factories for $3 a shift and children were going hungry. Our administration would acknowledge this for what it is: a monumental human rights tragedy, and work stridently to try to help Hispanics in as many ways as possible here, while working just as stridently to help (more humanitarian aid, more Peace Corp help…) Hispanics be as sustainable as possible in their own countries. It’s our belief many people would rather not leave their home, family, community, culture. But when your children are hungry… To get tough on all this, to turn our backs on this tremendous human need: flies directly in the face of sound, spiritual judgement.