This Immigrant Day, let's move forward together

On May 14, we will celebrate another Immigrant Day in California. This is a day when we honor the courage, resilience, and vitality of immigrant and refugee communities that call our state home – a day when we say Thank You to immigrant and refugee families.

As I look forward to next Monday, I share with you a memory from many years ago that continues to ground me in this movement:

While working with refugees in Southeast Asia, I met an elderly woman as I was making the rounds at one of the Thai-Burmese border camps. She must have been in her mid-80s — gray hair, lips dark from chewing tobacco, back severely bent from her years. As she crossed my path, she handed me a bag of sticky rice the size of my fist. She said, “Young lady, thank you for visiting us, for not forgetting about us. Please accept this as a gift of my gratitude.” I was dumbstruck. I wanted to refuse her offer, but instead I accepted it and thanked her. Walking away, I muttered to myself, “She gave me food she desperately needed so that she could thank me,” and was humbled by the circle of gratitude at work.

Now in a time of great despair and anxiety in our communities, Immigrant Day reminds us of our power, as a people, and as a movement — just as this elderly woman did for me at a dilapidated refugee camp. It reminds us of goodness, of the capacity to imagine the suffering of others, and the hope that springs from every act of revolutionary kindness we offer to each other.

So, let us keep moving forward and leave no one behind: the young immigrant, the elderly newcomer, the unaccompanied child, the detained family, the fearless and courageous.

On May 14, hundreds of immigrants from throughout California will join us in Sacramento, to fight for dignity and respect, to show gratitude, and to keep moving California forward.

Please support Immigrant Day and give thanks to immigrants.

Our movement is strong because we choose to be strong. Our moment is now because there is no other time, but today.

In solidarity,
Cynthia Buiza
Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center