As a domestic worker earning some $320 a week, this immigrant from Argentina constantly seeks more income cleaning houses or caring for children, studies to improve her English, and encourages her two daughters in school and volunteer work.
C ristina Condori also commits herself to a controversial cause. On September 12, 2013, she joined women from 20 states in Washington, D.C., to protest the House of Representatives’ inaction on comprehensive immigration reform. As expected, these 105 women were arrested for their civil disobedience, but not before they drew attention to a disturbing fact: Women and children make up three-fourths of U.S. immigrants.
Actively involved with organizations that work for justice, health care, and improved lives for women and children, Condori put her beliefs and principles above her fears. “I was afraid,” she wrote (in an email written in Spanish that was paraphrased by immigrants’ rights worker, Africa Gonzalez). “We always are afraid of the unknown. I had never been arrested before and I feared what would happen to me if I was separated from my family.” But stronger than that fear, she adds, was the understanding that “when unfair laws break families, we must act to adjust those laws. We must raise our voices for those who are not present, those who are fearful.”
Emphasizing the contributions made by immigrants, Condori wants to banish the “freeloader” perception. “We are workers, we are parents,” she says. “We are men and women who work every day to provide bread, education, and clothing for our children. We pay taxes like any other citizens. We are not criminals.”
On the contrary, she adds, she and others came here because of the freedom and relative safety offered in America, and, if possible, to help shape positive change. That’s why she takes on the cause of reforming immigration to make it more fair and humane. “When I went to Washington,” she says, “I was convinced what I was doing was right.” Inspired by her two daughters, she hopes her act of civil disobedience will stop the cycle of dividing families as workers are deported every day.
Bessie Vance Brooks
Martha Ellen Maxwell