The U.S. is experiencing an immigration crisis fueled by the criminalization of poor people of color. With the understanding that much of what we are witnessing today has roots in the failed war on drugs, Bob Libal, executive director of Austin, Texas-based Grassroots Leadership, works to combat unjust immigration policies and the inhumane system of mass incarceration.
We recently spoke with Libal about his work on the front lines for an ongoing "Voices of Resistance" series, which aims to draw insight and inspiration from the South's deep history of struggle for social change and to learn from a new generation of Southern leaders working in today's volatile political climate.
What have you seen working on the ground with Grassroots Leadership?
I remember going out to the Hutto Detention Center in 2007 and visiting a man and his family who were detained there. It was a family detention center at the time, and I heard stories about how absolutely awful it was. I think those kind of things have certainly motivated me for the last decade.
How have you seen communities rally in recent weeks?
It has been really heartening to see people, for the last two years really, stand up and fight back. We've seen an outpouring of support of people who are saying, "We will give our time, we will give our money, we will put our bodies on the front lines." We trained hundreds of people to do civil disobedience in Austin in the last couple of years. I think there's a real sense of urgency and moral crisis, and it's not hard to get people to stand up and fight back.