We voted to send a strong message to the business community about the economic impact deporting these productive young people will have on our local and regional economy and just as importantly, we let a roomful of our neighbors know that we care about them, stand with them and will fight for them. Had I chosen not to attend the HRC meeting, we would not have had the quorum needed to make those votes.
On Thursday night (September 7) I had a decision to make. The Human Relations Commission on which I serve had a regularly scheduled meeting and the Democratic Committee of Guilford was holding a Mayoral Candidate Forum at the same time. Then the pot sweetened – the forum was going to allow for other candidates to speak.
When one is an At-Large candidate in a field of 15, any chance to speak publicly is in one’s best interest. Then the issue that made the decision a “no-brainer”. Human Relations Commissioners were notified that responding to the Trump administration decision to end DACA protections had been added to our agenda and we were told that a number of people would attend our meeting to tell their stories and ask for our help.
My decision was to meet my responsibility as a commissioner and to demonstrate to our immigrant community, including our “Dreamers”, that their issues are my issues and that they have the support of our community. What a gift that decision turned out to be.
We met and heard from a young woman who has earned academic credentials as a paralegal and works for a law firm ensuring that people who have been wronged receive the settlements to which they are entitled. We met two brothers, who as DACA recipients, were able to complete their registered nurse degrees (with no financial assistance) and now work in an intensive care unit saving lives. If I am ever in intensive care, I want to look up and see one of these young men looking back at me. If Trump has his way, the only way that can happen is if I am in ICU in Mexico – the country to which these brothers will be deported.
The HRC voted, unanimously, to send letters to local and state elected officials about the necessity of protecting these young Americans (and they really are Americans). We voted to send a strong message to the business community about the economic impact deporting these productive young people will have on our local and regional economy and just as importantly, we let a roomful of our neighbors know that we care about them, stand with them and will fight for them. Had I chosen not to attend the HRC meeting, we would not have had the quorum needed to make those votes.
As I left at 5:00 am the following morning to drive the four hours to Topsail Beach to do a presentation on racism, and as I later saw the posts of pictures and videos of candidates speaking at the candidate forum on Facebook, I was pleased with my decision. Maybe some voters that I need didn’t get to meet me, maybe it will cost me some votes, but I got to meet some folks that are very important to me. I made it to Topsail right at 9:00. I had the opportunity to walk the talk, to be true to my values. Good decision.