Caravan Against Fear arrives in Austin as Texas House looks at immigration bill

One of six vans that has traveled from California to Texas as part of the Caravan Against Fear. (Photo: Bettie Cross)

A fight against fear broke out in Austin on Sunday. A caravan of activists drove into northeast Austin to encourage immigrants not to be paralyzed by their fears. This action comes as representatives in the Texas House prepare to vote on a controversial immigration bill. The bill could cut funding from cities, counties and college campuses that don't cooperate with immigration officials or enforce immigration laws. The Texas Senate has already passed an immigration bill, so opponents are bringing in reinforcements and calling on the undocumented community to confront their fears.

"It's been a long journey, very long journey," said Kawana Anderson.

In just two weeks Anderson and a team of 45 activists have logged a few thousand miles in six large white vans. They've been up and down the state of California, traveled across Arizona and on Sunday drove into Austin. It's their first stop in Texas. While the landscape has constantly changed, the message is always the same.

"We come with love and we come with no fear," said Anderson.

The activists are challenging community members to face their fears and not back down from the political fight over immigration. At the forum against fear a banner hanging on the wall put it in the simplest terms. It reinforces the difference it makes when a family is together or fears being separated.

"When communities feel like they can't show up to work, they can't be out in public, they can't drop their kids off at school without fear of being detained, deported, separated from their families it means they are less likely to participate in the workforce, less likely to participate in the economy and that's bad for business," said Jose Garza, Executive Director of the Workers Defense Project.

The Workers Defense Project says undocumented workers make up 20 percent of Austin's construction industry and 15 percent of the city's service sector. Organizers think overcoming fear will pay off for everyone.

"I'm grateful to start this message and move this message across the country," said Anderson.

The Texas House is expected to take action on an immigration bill this Wednesday.

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