Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from a speech by Jenn Carrillo made in Dwight, Illinois prior to her winning election to the Bloomington, Illinois City Council in April, 2019. Jenn is a community organizer who fights with and for the people.
I came to the U.S. as a child, as an immigrant, and as someone who lived undocumented for over a decade. I understand firsthand the ways in which our racist immigration system works to maintain a subclass of people and employs terror to keep us silent in our exploitation. . . I know the American dream is not the reality we encounter when we arrive. [It] isn’t a reality for people whose parents, grandparents, and great grandparents sought hope and refuge here in Dwight, Illinois generations ago.
Today, we show up . . . in solidarity with the people here and throughout this part of the state, and throughout the country. People whose struggle leaves them desperate, and eager to sustain their families, just like the families that the monied interests seek to attain. We come today to ask the people of Dwight, not to do the bidding of the real outsiders, the suits who have no roots in this community, and who sell human bondage for a buck, and expect you to do the dirty work.
This is the game of corporations in cahoots with opportunistic politicians looking to line their own pockets and serve their own interest. They changed the rules of the game to make it more profitable for corporations to uproot and establish elsewhere; leaving communities like this one, barren and unable to support dignified life for their people.
These same corporations have invaded our home countries to extract all the possible wealth from the people and the earth, and when they have sucked us dry, they move on to find the next best things, leaving us in shambles, and forcing us to seek refuge in neighboring economies. Here we are exploited, abused as workers by another set of people seeking to profit from us. And then we are criminalized and hunted down by yet another set of rich people looking to extract profit from our misery.
To keep the system afloat, to keep us from rising up, we are told that we are each other’s enemy. Immigrants are told to avoid communities like Dwight, because of how racist they are. And residents in this community have been convinced that immigrant refugees are the culprits of their suffering.
And now, they are told that the only way out of their misery and desperation is to be the enforcers of misery upon immigrant bodies.
There are going to be people who disagree with our cause but remember…
The people of Dwight, are not our enemy.
Our enemy is ICE.
Our enemy is a brutal system of mass incarceration and those who profit from it.
Our enemies are the politicians who benefit from pitting brother against brother. And sister against sister.
Repeat after me: We’ve found the enemy, and it’s not each other.