Soon, he learned that the original group of people, none spoke English crossed the southern border that morning fleeing poverty; gang-violence, and religious persecution in several neighboring poor countries, while seeking asylum inside his country. They were rounded up by border patrol and throughout the day presented in front of an immigration judge to file their initial petitions. Those applications would now go through byzantine legal processes over many months. But at the end of the day, the trespassers collectively were dropped outside the bus station since the private bus company won’t allow them to enter the building without a valid ticket. In fact, they didn’t even have any money to buy tickets or cell-phones to contact any relative living inside the country. However, the volunteers from local social enterprises and religious institutions created a vast network of similar-minded citizens providing food, temporary shelters, and further assistance to these helpless migrant masses.
Judge Williams ordered a cup of coffee from a nearby café and sat on a chair watching the process unfolding. As the sun began to set behind the distant mountain-range painting the whole sky in a subdued pink hue, he started to remember the pages from a hand-written diary. This was kept by his great-great-grandfather who as a young boy, along with the rest of the family, was able to escape the dragnet of their masters when President Abe Lincoln freed the slaves. Traveling only in the dark of the night, the family had inched out of the southern states over several months. Then they came in contact with the volunteers from the northern states running a vast network of escape route for the newly-freed slaves. The history-books would later term the network as the “Underground Railroad”. Growing up, Judge Williams visited several of these historic hidden escape-shelters, spread out along the north-south corridor.
He looked at the sky, now slowly darkening. As a direct descendent of freed slaves, he couldn’t fathom the fact that even after 150 years later, the country needed a new underground railroad to protect the current vulnerable members of the humanity.