Copyright: scottff72 / 123RF Stock Photo

A Day Without Immigrants is a Sad Day

I would be very sad if I had to go a day without immigrants.

Luckily, due to First Friends of New York and New Jersey, this is not a problem for me. First Friends is an organization that supports detained immigrants and asylum seekers via volunteer visitation, resettlement assistance and advocacy.

Through First Friends, I have met amazing people from all over the world, one even turned out to be a real Prince!  I volunteer to meet with asylum seekers in detention centers, or sometimes jail when the centers are too full. I’ve met the most remarkable people who have gone through ordeals that make The Amazing Race look a playground obstacle course.

Many make their way from Africa, braving the jungles of South America, dodging the kidnappers who prey on immigrants until they finally reach the US border where they can make an asylum claim. After which, the asylum seekers could be flown halfway across the country to go to prison-like detention centers or in some cases, real prisons.

I’ve met people whose principles cost them everything. Men, who gave up their comfortable life in the city to organize protests and wound up in jail, fearing for their lives. These are people who end up giving up everything, their home, their livelihood and their family to right a wrong. These are the types of people that I have only read about in history books.

How can you not be inspired by such bravery?

I find the patience of immigrants equally as moving. I can’t even imagine the forbearance it takes to sit in a prison dorm all day, with only a 30-minute volleyball game where you see a patch of sky each day. Day after day, the television blaring at you in an unfamiliar language.

Or the humility it takes for a successful businessman forced to lineup at a church food pantry for dinner.