Playing Music To Welcome New "Illegal" Immigrants
OPINION 10/06/2039 7:35 AM ET
Playing Music To Welcome New "Illegal" Immigrants

Buzz Sinatra
Americans For Immigration Fairness

CC BY 4.0 DISTRIBUCION DE ALIMENTOS EL DIA DE ACCION DE GRACIAS by Mexicanos Sin Fronteras | Writer image: CC BY-SA 4.0 - image changes released under same license Hampstead people by Peter O'Connor aka anemoneprojectors | Images were cropped. Images used for illustration purposes only.
Immigrants line up to receive food and beverages the day after braving the journey across the border.
It was dusk, and the sky was red in the west, while above it was tarry black, with little white snowflakes all up in the Arizona night sky. It was an unseasonal eighty-five degrees and far too hot even for the daytime.

They crawled out from under the car, and I still don't know how they did it. The SUV sat there, a pathetic faded blue rust bucket, on top of a hole in the ground no bigger than a couple feet in diameter. They climbed up what Miguel* later described as a threadbare rope ladder. Then they hauled themselves out of the hole, with a clearance of maybe nine inches to the SUV's undercarriage, then pulled the next person up. Finally, dirty and dehydrated, they squirmed their way to the edge of the SUV and emerged into the Arizona night sky.

Into freedom.

In days past they would have fled, often barefoot in a desert of rattlesnakes and scorpions, to the nearest town, where they would have been told either family or an "ayudante" (a people smuggler) would be waiting for them.

We had been forewarned that a group of fifty or so would be arriving, and we prepared beforehand. AFIF (Americans For Immigration Fairness) is funded by the generosity of ordinary Americans. We are able to intercept immigrants, and partner them with immigrant organizations and attorneys to assist with their settlement status here in the U.S.

We also bring the necessities: food, water, doctors, clothing. We set up temporary toilets and shower facilities, and provide transportation. If anyone requires treatment at a hospital, we transport them and notify attorneys who will care for their legal requirements should hospital staff notify the authorities.

My job, aside from helping set up our facilities: tents, tables, lighting (refugees often arrive at night to evade detection) and other equipment, is to play music. I'm not joking. The first thing a lot of immigrants to this great nation see are federal agents pointing a gun at them, which should be a crime. Dogs bark at them, large men shout orders, and they are packed into a truck like cattle and shipped to a detention facility.

These people, our brothers and sisters from the south, crawl through tunnels with poor lighting which might give out any moment. Tunnels which may collapse at any moment (if the tunnel collapses on people they are left to die and the tunnel is forked off), and in which temperatures climb above 110 degrees in summer. They carry little food and water with them and almost no cash.

I want their first experience to be amazing, I want them to feel love, I want it to absolutely pour over them. I'm not a doctor or a lawyer, but I've been playing guitar since forever, so I bring my band. We get our basic transportation needs covered, and we play background music.

We hit Elvis and Buddy Holly, do some Abba and Tina Turner, even some Pink Floyd and Queen. Upbeat stuff. It actually helps settle people down - when they arrive and see food and water waiting for them, they think the government is setting a trap for them, and they remain on edge, even as they are deloused and innoculated. We've been told by other AFIF staff that since we started playing, people are much less on edge, more pliable, more willing to receive the love we want to give them.

That's the gift every new arrival to our country should receive.


*names changed to protect identities.
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