Joey here. Kangaroo Court Puppet. One pound of 25-year-old, Australia-conceived, Korea-born, America-imported dead weight. New Mexico bound.
Here’s my chauffeur, Jeffrey, acclimating to the Rajasthani desert in January under the supervision of Rocket the Camel, to prepare for the hot dry American Southwest.
In our five annual Rides for Human Rights, Jeffrey and I have pedaled over 6,000 miles (10,000 km). Our travels have led kind people to donate over $167,000 to Human Rights First to support their work to stop the violence that forces people to become refugees, and their work to help refugees who make it to our country. Along the way, we have spoken about immigration and refugee issues to thousands of Americans. The little red arrow shows where we started each journey: New York City.
Everyone in these golden states to whom, face to face, we gently have explained the realities of immigration and asylum law, has agreed with the premise that—no matter what they think of immigration in general—America should welcome refugees and should provide lawyers to help victims of persecution plead their cases.
Our sixth Ride for Human Rights will test this precedent.
During the ongoing 2016 Presidential campaign, good, well-meaning Americans have been whipped into xenophobic anger by politicians who are ignorant of the facts and/or lie like rugs. (We can’t imagine a third possibility.)
Politicians claim that people fleeing violence in Central America are lawbreakers when they come to the U.S. border to ask for refuge. No! Under American law, these people have the right to ask for asylum, and the right to have their cases decided by an asylum officer or an immigration judge.
Politicians claim that immigrants bring crime and disease and are a net financial burden. No! Immigrants, even unauthorized immigrants, have lower crime and disease rates, and higher labor force participation rates, than the America-born. Their tax payments subsidize Americans.
Politicians claim that Syrian refugees are terrorists. No! Refugees are carefully screened before they are allowed to immigrate here. Refugees are less likely to be terrorists than Americans are. The 9/11 terrorists—just like the all-American 1995 Oklahoma City bomber—were non-refugees, non-immigrants.
It’s sad that lies have stirred up hatred of immigrants and resistance to refugees.
How much hatred? How much resistance?
By riding deeper into the Heartland than we’ve ever gone before, maybe we can answer those questions.
Jeffrey and I listen to the people we meet. We tell them our truth. We hope, as before, it becomes our new friends’ truth.
On May 18, we will leave NYC by train. On May 19, picking up where we left off in Chicago in 2014,
we will pedal 1400 miles (2200 km) south and west on a new adventure.
Follow us to New Mexico. Listen to what we hear along the way. See whether, away from the foulness of 2016 politics, our fellow Americans are still the kind and generous people who welcomed us in the Rust Belt, in Appalachia, in the Deep South, in cosmopolitan places and in places where a stranger stands out.
Once we get rolling, as in past years we intend to post every night from the road.
Come back soon for more pre-departure news!