By Dorothea Farris
Where do I stand? I stand with my amazing heritage, with the grandparents who traveled across an ocean to a land of freedom and hope and opportunity to work in steel mills and factories to benefit the rich.
With my grandparents from Ireland who were greeted with signs that read “Irish Need Not Apply”, to my Italian neighbors, who, without papers, were ushered through Ellis Island with documents that were stamped WOP- With Out Papers- and who were then referred to as WOPs.
I stand with the immigrants from China and Eastern Europe who were brought to our mountains to mine the gold and silver and minerals and coal. Their deaths in the mines were marked, often, with date of death, but with no name recognition.
I stand with those of my generation who were, and are, free to move across this nation and the world to places they choose; free to select work and educational opportunities; free to establish a home and a community. That is the America that we all admire. We are proud to choose and share this America with the world.
In 1893, the Crystal Valley was surveyed by the Hayden Geological Survey exploration. The area we now call Carbondale was located in Ute lands within the Ute “borders”. The “westward movement” also took lands that belonged to Mexico. Moving boundaries and establishing borders in land that was not ours happened, but it does not mean that it has to continue, many generations later, to the detriment of immigrants trying to make a home. A home just like our recent ancestors sought.
Today, we shake our heads as we acknowledge the thousands of men, women, and children who are reflecting their heritage, who are seeking the opportunity to live free, to make choices, to learn, to contribute, to add to the value of their lives and the lives of their loved ones. These individuals did not cross an ocean. They walked to the welcoming land of freedom and opportunity.
And now they sit, encamped along a “border”, a border that does not reflect the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. We acknowledge those who are locked in camps, but we can do more. They are not threatening our lives or safety or security. We can do more. Our ancestors showed us how to live together. I stand with my heritage of welcoming immigrants into America.
Dorothea Farris is a longtime Roaring Fork Valley local. Her many lives have included work as a newspaper editor, a proofreader, a handwriting analyst, a weather reader for the airport, an activist and board member for educational, historical, environmental, wildlife, and political agencies and organizations.