For extended show notes, see https://antiracistvoter.com/laz-ayala.
We don’t have an illegal immigration problem. We have a systemic illegal employment problem.
Picture this. It’s June 16, 2015. Lazaro “Laz” Ayala is standing in his living room. The speaker on the television is saying “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Laz, a successful businessman in southern Oregon, feels the sting of those words. Laz arrived in the United States as a 14-year-old boy, driven from his home by civil war in El Salvador.
The words on the television are dehumanizing for all immigrants. This is an important concept. When a class of people are dehumanized, it excuses a host of behaviors, from separating families, to locking babies in cages.
The words weaponize race as a tool to divide Americans. They are a threat, not just to some Americans, but to our democracy.
Laz waits for the response to come. He waits for community leaders to act. He waits for celebrities to speak out. Someone has to do something.
Laz waited for a year. Then he realized that he is someone. He has to act.
He recognized that his business could suffer. With the state of the debate over undocumented workers, he even worried that he might lose his life. But he pushed ahead.
He wrote a book to tell his story. The book is Illegal: One immigrant’s life or death journey to the American dream. He made a documentary film, allowing other immigrants to tell the story from their perspectives.
And, realizing that it would take an engaged community to make a difference, he launched an organization, Illegal the Project.
Learn More About Laz Ayala and Illegal the Project:
Illegal The Project: https://www.illegaltheproject.org
Book: Illegal: One immigrant’s life or death journey to the American dream: https://amzn.to/32EzClz
Report: Undocumented But In Demand: An Assessment of the Labor Crisis and Illegal Employment System in the US: https://02e23a5c-043f-4516-9f77-3f8c3fa3a144.filesusr.com/ugd/4a438a_98b44710f5c84231afafa4bd3e614c43.pdf