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Column: Immigration love story gets to heart of matter

It's not often that I feel the need to write about emotions, since the ones on display during election season tend to be hate, fear and contempt. But after a couple of events last weekend, I've decided to write about one that is supposed to matter most among people of all faiths-love.

When I went to hear the Arizona Republic writer Linda Valdez talk about her book at the Peregrine Book Company, I expected it to be a story about the sad state of affairs for immigrants, the terrible results of border politics and how families are being torn apart and abused by the system. What I didn't expect was a touching love story about how she met her future husband, their courtship, their struggles within the system, then finally how they had to go outside of a broken system to get married.

It's a story of how love conquers all-borders, language, cultural differences and, yes, even bigotry.

Her book "Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders" shows how an endearing connection between families and countries can endure great hardships. Valdez adds a touch of magical realism with her stories of everyday miracles.

The book, however, also reveals the cruelty of our current immigration system and its negative consequences on family ties, as fear and hate mongering have created a hostile, exploitative environment in Arizona for many people with brown skin.

But if love is the antidote to hate, there is still hope for us all in people like Linda Valdez and her husband Sixto, who was there at the event beaming with pride at his wife as she answered questions and read from her book. I asked her if Arizona had always been this way, and she shook her head. "Not like now."

Recently I saw a Buzzfeed video by a 24-year-old Mexican-American woman. She was upset by Donald Trump's remarks on Mexicans and by others cheering him on. Hurt, she questioned her heritage. Her mother, who was featured in the video, calmly explained how he was wrong about all of his assertions and quoted facts and statistics that proved him wrong. Among the facts:

-Immigrants, both legal and unauthorized are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

  • Immigrants start small businesses at twice the rate of U.S.-born people.

  • Our American journey and our success would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the world. (From

She reminded her daughter that knowing the truth is all that matters in the end.

Another event I attended was a sermon at the Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Church in Prescott, given by Peter Pierson, a man of many talents who works for Prescott Creeks and is the new leader of the Good Governance Committee. Pierson, who had a long career as a firefighter, also was a Unitarian minister in the suburbs of Minneapolis for several years.

In his sermon, he expressed a hope that people could overcome their fears with faith, hope, charity and belief in something greater than themselves. He reminded us, by reading a poem by Mary Oliver, that our closeness to nature helps us to become more human.

In a time when the leading Republican Presidential candidate is portraying Mexicans as rapists and criminals, all Muslim people as terrorists and women as less than men, it might be time to examine our hearts and consider what it really means to be human and what it means to dehumanize others according to race, religion, gender or any other difference.

Keeping Arizona's Water Glass Full

The League of Women Voters of Central Yavapai County will host the Arizona Town Hall presentation on "Keeping Arizona's Water Glass Full" this Saturday at Las Fuentes Resort Village, 1035 Scott Drive, in the downstairs meeting room. The event starts at 10 a.m. To register so that Arizona Town Hall will have enough materials to distribute, please register at

Horseplay for a Good Cause

On Sunday, March 13, 2-4 p.m., the Prescott Rodeo Grounds will be the site of a kick-off party for an Arizona Trail ride to benefit Prescott Area Shelter Services. Carol Fontana will ride her Arabian endurance horse Tiki to raise funds for PASS, which helps families transition from homelessness into homes. Attendees can have photos taken with Tiki. Dennis Garvey and Paul Spradler will provide music. The rodeo grounds are at 840 Rodeo Drive, Prescott. For more information, go to

GMO-Free Prescott on Food Supply

Shea Richland, Founder of GMO-Free Prescott will address the Democratic Women of the Prescott Area on March 23, 11:30 a.m., at the Centennial Center, 1989 Clubhouse Drive, Prescott, on "Reclaiming Food Democracy." The presentation will tell the story of how Americans lost choice and control of the food supply and how to get it back. Also, Corporation Commission candidate Tom Chabin will attend and speak about his campaign. Email to reserve a spot at the buffet luncheon. Cost is $15 for members; $17 for nonmembers. All are welcome.


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