BY MELANIE FARRELL
Prior to working at The MICA Project, I thought I knew what it meant to fight hate. Hate, I believed, was something that could simply be combatted with kindness. It was one or the other. No compromise.
While I still believe this to be partly true, I now see more additions to this duality. Hate is powerful. It is far easier to hate than it is to love. And it is also is far easier to identify acts of kindness than it is to admit the systemic hate in this country. Hate is ingrained in our society. It’s something that we’re so accustomed to that many of us don’t even need words to identify it.
But, we should use words. We need to define hate when we see it, and take action to resolve it.
On September 5th, the Trump administration made the formal announcement that DACA will be phased out over the next few months. With this action in place, roughly 800,000 young people will be affected. DACA allows these individuals to work, to go to school, and to support their families. “These courageous people gave the government all of their personal information, paid government fees, went through background checks, and submitted stacks of evidence to prove their eligibility. Now, the government is turning its back on them (mica-project.org).”
Without a minute to spare, The MICA Project quickly sprung into action. We reached out to local community members and organized DACA informational sessions and renewal clinics. Behind the scenes, we were also searching through our client files to allocate all of our DACA clients. The staff then jointly spent the duration of the next few days calling each client individually to express that we weren’t going anywhere, and that we would update them as often as possible with any important information.
A couple weeks following, MICA co-sponsored a DACA Renewal Clinic. At this particular event, I was able to take part in much of the planning process. I created a flier that was circulated among different immigrant advocacy organizations in the St. Louis area, and also helped in the scheduling of volunteers and attorneys for the event.
The day of the clinic, I worked alongside the MICA attorneys to ensure that all needs were being met. I did this by creating volunteer tasks and giving out responsibilities to help the flow of work throughout the day. Unfortunately, the amount of DACA clients that are eligible for renewal is limited, so our work for the day was only focused on small group of individuals.
To be frank, it’s pretty easy to feel defeated in this line of work. It’s easy to look at the world around you and see so much bigotry and feel helpless. It’s not easy to spend weeks working toward a goal that is virtually unattainable. We fight, fight, and fight. But to what end?
Whenever these thoughts cross my mind, all I have to do is look up from my desk. I see attorneys seeing client after client. I see interns running to make copies in order to prepare for a looming deadline. I see staff members calling multiple clients a day to hear their stories, and offer different legal options that could help them.
The truth of the matter is that it IS hard some days. But, everyday I see people stepping up in so many ways. Even when those in charge fail us.
El odio no tiene hogar aquí. Hate has no home here.
Now is not the time to be silent. Be kind to others. Stay informed. Find ways to take action. And speak out against hate when you see it.
I am forever grateful to Loretto for presenting me with this opportunity to play my part.
Melanie Farrell is from Warrington, PA and graduated from James Madison University in Virginia in 2017 with a B.S. in Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication. She also has minors in Communication Studies and Humanitarian Affairs. During her time in college, Melanie served alongside various communities, specifically working with survivors and victims of human trafficking. She is an avid coffee-drinker and lover of writing. She also enjoys reading mystery novels and playing with dogs. This year Melanie is working with M.I.C.A. Project, an organization committed to working with low-income immigrants to overcome barriers to justice in St. Louis, MO.
In Their Own Words
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