This past February 22nd, thousands of people from around the state of Texas descended upon the state capitol to protest the rash of racist laws that have been proposed in this legislative session.
Five hundred of us from here in the Rio Grande Valley got up at 3am to board buses that were headed north.
About an hour and a half up the highway, the Border Patrol has set up an inspection station.
One of the buses duly stopped so that the agent could come on board to do his job. Armando, a jovial fellow even at that hour of the day leapt to his feet and extended his hand, “Good morning, sir!” he sang out. The patrol man, perhaps at the end of his shift, stepped back and frowned. “Show me your papers!” he demanded, and Armando said, “Papers? What are those?” The officer frowned some more, “Are you a US citizen?” and Armando bellowed, “But of course!”
The officer looked past him at the fifty or so other smiling folks and asked, “Well, what about them?” Armando said, “Them? I can’t vouch for them, but you are welcome to check,” and he stepped aside to let the agent past.
The agent didn’t stop to speak to the blond woman on the left, or the young, well-dressed man on his right. He walked straight up to a swarthy-looking man who was simply dressed, and, in front of everyone, declared him a suspicious looking fellow by demanding, “Are you a US citizen? Show me your identification!”
The agent then moved onto another, younger fellow who apparently looked like however it is that carpenters and day laborers are supposed to look, for he is, in fact, a roofer. “Los documentos?” asked the agent. The young man shrugged off the embarrassment of being singled out, and answered, “US citizen.”
Satisfied that everything was legal, the border patrol agent stepped off the bus. The door closed, and the driver eased the bus northward, taking these citizens for a day of work defending the constitution.
Armando, looking out into the pre-dawn darkness, embarrassed for the men, comforted himself with the thought, ” I suppose that Jesus of Nazareth himself would have gotten the once over. You can never tell about those people who work with their hands.”