Joey here. Kangaroo Court Puppet. One pound (1/2 kg) of Australia-conceived, Korea-made artificial fiber. Bicycle passenger for over 7,500 road miles (12,000 km) through 1 Canadian province and 29 of the 48 contiguous American states. Symbol of an immigration adjudication system in desperate need of overhaul. For the seventh consecutive year, riding for human rights.
Puppets need a puppet master. For travel, they need a chauffeur. My person, Jeffrey, does dual duty.
We travel on a 2014 ICE Sprint 26.
We ride alone. But we aren’t alone. Once again, Nancy will be our ground control, watching over us from the East.
Kind words from family and friends, and from friends of human rights, give us the courage to keep going.
And we roll with the blessing of Human Rights First as we introduce people to the organization’s 39 years of support for human rights, their programs for refugee protection, and their efforts to stop the violence that forces refugees to leave their homes. Nancy and Jeffrey pay all expenses of the Ride, so 100% of your donations go to Human Rights First (rated 4 of 4 Stars by Charity Navigator).
On the road, we talk with people about our rights and responsibilities as Americans, how best to be generous and fair in the spirit of our faiths and our laws.
The world has dangers. We recognize the human tendency to exaggerate those dangers. A Cato Institute report puts the odds of being killed in America by an immigrant terrorist at 1 in 3.6 million; by a refugee terrorist at 1 in 3.64 billion; by an unauthorized immigrant terrorist at 1 in 10.9 billion. The National Safety Council says 1 in 114,000 will die by dog assault, 1 in 3,400 will choke to death on food, 1 in 358 will be shot to death by a criminal, 1 in 114 will die in a car crash. Banning refugees doesn’t keep us safe. We’d be smarter to ban dogs—or hot dogs!
The people we meet teach us. Their worlds are not entirely ours. Jeffrey often is clueless, but he’s willing to learn.
We teach our new friends, too. Jeffrey is a country boy who adapted to the city, a family man, a teacher, a student, a lawyer, a nurse, a driver, a cyclist, a caregiver, a cook. He finds something in common with almost everyone. His experiences often give him an angle that a new friend hasn’t considered.
We daresay most of our Ride encounters are fun all around.
Past destinations include Iowa, Tennessee, Florida, New England, and Chicago. Last May we returned to Chicago and biked from there to New Mexico. This April, we’ll pick up where we left off and continue to California, adding 1300 miles (2100 km) and three states to our list, and completing our crossing of North America.
Since we ended last year’s Ride, false and hateful things have been said about immigrants and refugees. The tone of our national conversation leads us to wonder whether we still can have the fruitful exchanges we enjoyed on our previous Rides, with people of all backgrounds and political bents. Will we still be welcomed? Will we still find sympathy for refugees?
Once again, we’ll take the temperature of part of America. We hope you’ll come along.
We’ll post in this space occasionally until our journey begins. We’ll post every night when we’re on the road.