Why I’ll Be Marching: Alex Handfinger on Southerners United for Dignity and Reform

Oct 5 Flyer_EnglishOn October 12th Arkansans will come together to march for immigration reform.

Organized by the Southeast Immigrants Rights Network in partnership with Arkansas United Community Coalition, and coinciding with a two-day conference to be held at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, two simultaneous marches will take place across the city beginning at 3:00 pm—one leaving from Philander Smith and another leaving from Dickey Stevens Ballpark.

Both marches will converge on the steps of the Capitol building. Everyone is invited to attend! Bring your children, your grandparents, and your neighbors. This is a march for all Arkansans. The goal of this march is to let representatives, and the larger Arkansas community, know that Arkansans want comprehensive immigration reform. This is a human rights issue for all of us who believe in keeping families together, in building strong communities, and honoring the lives of all humans. 

Over the next week we’ll be running a series of short pieces from Arkansans sharing why they’ll be marching October 12th. Today’s post comes from Alex Michael Handfinger of Little Rock, Arkansas. Want to submit your story and share why you’ll be marching? Contact us at the link above!

I’ll be marching for immigration reform on October 12th because I do not believe our current immigration policy and debate are just. Immigrants are human beings with lives and families that are worthy of dignity and respect and the same basic rights we are all afforded.

I find it sadly ironic for this to happen in what is literally a country of immigrants. Unless you are Native American, you are in this country because someone in your family immigrated here. If you or your family is Jewish, Irish, Italian, or any number of other ethnicities, it is not too long ago that you would have heard many of the same dehumanizing remarks that those of Latin American descent face today. All that separates immigrants from “the rest of us” is an arbitrary label that does not speak to whether or not someone deserves the opportunity to work hard, have their children receive a quality education, and the freedom to not live in constant fear.

As a Jewish great-grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I can’t help but be reminded of Martin Niemöller’s famous, “First They Came…” poem, in which the author explains his inaction when the Nazis went after groups such as trade unionists, Communists, and Jews, because he was not a member of those groups. The poem ends with, “Then they came for me/And there was no one left/To speak out for me”. For me this serves as a lesson that injustice only persists because we allow it to. So I will march for immigration reform on October 12th because it is time for this injustice to stop.

Learn more about the march and the conference here. And keep up with the event via the FB page here. And please spread the word! You’re voice is needed!


Alex Handfinger is a graduate student at the Clinton School of Public Service and the UAMS College of Public Health. Originally from just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he hopes to help build stronger communities through organizing local food systems.