Shades of Gray

I worked my first shift as a volunteer at El Sol this morning (El Sol is a resource center where day laborers can find work). As I was leaving, I stopped to chat with one of the organizers of the center who is interested in receiving my help on a writing project. As we were wrapping up our conversation, she told me a group of people from El Sol would be participating in a prayer circle tomorrow morning, in front of the center, and I was invited to attend. The prayer group is in response to the protesters that gather in front of the center every Saturday. Tomorrow will be different because a local man who is running against the incumbent for town council will be joining the protesters, and has issued a press release for the media to come and cover the protest.

John Parsons is challenging incumbent Bob Friedman for his seat on the town council. Parsons advocates shutting down El Sol, and it seems a lot of his support comes from this issue. There are several YouTube videos that show the protesters gathered in front of El Sol (the comments viewers leave are revealing). When I listen to their complaints, I can appreciate where they are coming from---I, too, come from a working class family. But the idea of shutting down El Sol strikes me as incredibly short-sighted. It serves a purpose for the community, and is viewed as a success in the way it keeps day laborers from congregating on streets. It provides a place for them to go if they have questions about immigration paperwork, and it provides English lessons.

It's a black and white issue for many citizens, and hot damn if life wouldn't be easier with such a clear view of the world. Not to mention the self-righteousness this would allow me: They don't have papers? Send them all back. Unfortunately, these issues are a lot murkier for me. I'm a law abiding citizen. I support the working class; hell, I'm a member of the working class. However, I reject the idea of purposefully making a difficult life more difficult for a group of immigrants by closing the only resource center that assists them. Perhaps these are contradictory stances. So be it.

It will be interesting to see how Parsons does in the election. The incumbent has been a supporter of the resource center, so the election results will speak directly to this issue.

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