Diego Graglia is documenting the lives of Latinos during this presidential election year as he travels from New York City to Mexico City. For more on La Ruta del Voto Latino-The Road to the Latino Vote visit www.newyorktomexico.com.
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On our first day on the road we arrived in Manassas, Virginia, not far from Washington D.C. Our goal was to revisit the intense and controversial debate on immigration that has been taking place there.
A year ago the Prince William County supervisors launched a crackdown on undocumented immigrants. They passed a resolution whose outstanding feature allows local law enforcement to inquire about the immigration status of people they suspect of committing a crime or misdemeanor (even jaywalking.) Officers can also report undocumented immigrants to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation processing.
Since then, the Latino population in the county appears to have plummeted.
As soon as we arrived, I met Teresita Jacinto, a spokeswoman for Mexicanos Sin Fronteras/Mexicans Without Borders. Listen here to a Podcast of my interview with Jacinto.
Teresita Jacinto at 9500 Liberty St., “El Muro de la Calle Libertad.” (More photos here)
I interviewed her in front of what people in Manassas call The Wall — and those supporting immigrants regardless of their status call El Muro de la Calle Libertad (Liberty Street wall). It’s painted on the side of a burnt-down house by Mexican-born owner Gaudencio Fernández. In the wall’s strong message, he calls Prince William County, “the national capital of intolerance.” [Read the full text in this photo.] Unfortunately when we arrived Fernández was on vacation in Mexico.
The wall has been the subject of controversy and the target of attacks. As you’ll read in this story, Fernández has to go to court after his vacation. But I was more concerned with understanding its message.