Bernard’s Story, a short documentary that chronicles how and why Enforcement-only stances on immigration can destroy families and communities, will be released this July 4.
Bernard’s Story is surely an American story, one of people manifesting change, of a community authoring its own history. The film details how in the fall and winter of 2010, the people of Reading, OH, coalesced to defend a friend and classmate from unjust deportation.
After Bernard ran a red light and landed in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proceedings, his classmates, family, and faith-based leaders started a movement to bring him home.
The Free Bernard Pastor campaign, as it would eventually be dubbed, became a national symbol of community resistance to deportation, as well as the power of communities taking action for justice. What follows are the words of Jenny, one of Bernard Pastor’s high school classmates:
“Bernard is part of Reading. He is part of everyone’s family, really. We’re all family in Reading.”
Her words, it must be said, echo the sentiments of many of the town’s residents, who found themselves caught in the cross-hairs of the national immigration debate.
In December, 2010, after months of letter writing, candle-light vigils, community meetings, press conferences, online networking, and actions in front of the detention center where Pastor was being held, he was finally released.
As many undocumented students around the country continue to fight for the DREAM Act, the courage, tactics, and collective will of the people of Reading should serve as a model catalyst for action – a reminder that great victories are possible when people don’t relinquish their beliefs.
On June 29, nearly 200 undocumented youths gathered in the Russell Senate Office Building to thank Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and the Congressional champions of the DREAM Act. They presented the stories of several courageous undocumented youth who are currently in deportation proceedings, and whose pleas for relief directed towards the Obama Administration have either been met with silence or shameful, aggressive opposition.
Bernard’s Story, a story so similar to the aforementioned 200 DREAMers, is but one reflection emanating from the contemporary mosaic of the Immigrant Rights movement.
We simply can’t wait for national laws or leadership to end the deportations and harassment of immigrants and their families. Just like the residents of Reading, we need to protect and empower those we care about by enacting acts of resistance in our communities, cities, and states.
In Pastor’s own words: “people have power.”
Watch out for the release of Bernard’s Story, complete with interviews with Pastor after his release from deportation, as well as “Bernard’s Story: A Guide for Community Action,” on Imagine2050.net this July 4.