Last Friday, the OFA chapter in North Central Los Angeles joined forces with the famous Nuns on the Bus for an event at Mercado La Paloma in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
First, we presented a screening of The Dream is Now to an intrepid group who braved L.A.'s Friday rush hour traffic to be there. Several of our guests were first and second generation immigrants, and there was not a dry eye in the house at the end. After a short discussion, we went out to the parking lot to await the arrival of the nuns.
By the time the big rock star-type bus pulled up there were nearly 100 excited people in attendance. We followed Sister Simone Campbell and her fellow nuns inside for a rally and what the nuns call a "friendraiser."
Several of the Sisters spoke, telling stories of the wonderful people they met, the poignant human dramas they heard about, and the minds they have helped change along their 6,500-mile bus trip from Ellis Island, through the South, and finally to California. The final leg of their journey took them from the border south of San Diego, through L.A., and ended at Angel Island in San Francisco. Both Ellis and Angel Islands have long been points of entry for people seeking a new life in the United States.
Sister Simone is a lawyer who used to represent poor and immigrant clients at her clinic in San Francisco. Also on the program were representatives from Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, which was founded by Sister Diane Donoghue. As a community organizer in South L.A. in the 1980s, Sister Diane learned that the immigrant population she worked with was being forced out of their homes by industrial development. She was the driving force in building Mercado La Paloma, which houses award-winning immigrant-owned restaurants and social service organizations.
OFA volunteers also helped collect postcards the nuns always ask everyone to sign, which will be delivered to Congress at the end of the bus tour. And at the close of the rally in L.A., the nuns lined up on stage and led the crowd through several raised-arm renditions of their immigration cheer: "Raise your hands! Raise your voice! For comprehensive immigration reform now!"