immigrant round-up: deportees

Today is Saturday.   The start of the immigrant round-up by the current administration in Washington, DC.  This round-up is occurring across the country by I.C.E. (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) officials.   The situation is bad.  And there is plenty of blame to go around.    I’m not here to place blame because that is counter-productive.   I’m here to ask, “Isn’t there something else we could do?”

Couldn’t we appoint more immigration judges to deal with asylum seekers?   Couldn’t we find a way to maintain a connection with people while helping them through the process?   Couldn’t we find a way to assist them in their plight?  Why must we always dehumanize them by seeing families and children as the enemy?  Why… the evil ones?  Why… the undesirables?  Why only migrants?

While the current administration claims they want to focus on “criminals” they have not defined what they mean by criminal.   And how will they determine who is criminal?  How much will profiling go into their selection of who they “nab”.  If you have brown skin does that automatically make you a criminal?!   Will white illegal immigrants be overlooked while black and brown immigrants are rounded up? The fact is, we have a process on dealing with illegal immigration and we have a criminal justice system to deal with those who commit serious crimes (murder, theft, drugs, etc).  While those systems seem inadequate at times why don’t we shore up those systems instead of bypassing them?   When we bypass the law we become the lawless.

These men, women and children have names.   They are individuals of worth with temporary needs.  They come with the hope for a better life than what they left behind.  Haven’t we all done that at some point?   Haven’t we all been in an untenable situation at some point where we had to move on?   Have you ever changed jobs?  Have you retired?  Have you divorced?   Have you married?  Have you moved to another house/apartment?   Have you ever moved to another city?  Have you ever left behind something in the hope of finding something better?  Over the years I’ve seen several migrant run restaurants (Mexican and Asian) in my city that closed.  They were popular restaurants.   Was it because I.C.E. rounded up the owners and/or employees of the restaurant and deported them?   Were they criminal?  Weren’t  they making a living, paying the rent, paying employees, paying taxes, building families.  Was there a misunderstanding, due to language barriers, where they did not file the appropriate immigration paperwork and because there was no follow-up they fell through the cracks.   So are they criminal?   Why wasn’t there someone who could help them?  Why wasn’t there some follow-up?  Aren’t we doing more harm by making migrants more fearful to seek help from the place they’ve come to make their home?  Are we doing more harm by deterring migrants from self-reporting?   Aren’t we doing more harm by alienating the alien?   Aren’t we doing more harm?

My own family history reveals us as a family of migrants.  My Great Grandfather immigrated from Switzerland in the late 1800s to come to Ohio, to purchase a farm, start farming and be part of a small Mennonite community.  So because my family immigrated from Europe instead of Mexico, Africa or China or a country where Islam is the religion of choice, does that make us more desireable?  Better prepared?  Better humans?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!!!!  We are human beings with our own flaws, tics, and characteristics like everyone else regardless of skin color or country of origin.

We are all migrants in one form or another.  It is part of the human experience.   When we dehumanize our fellow human beings we dehumanize ourselves.

I pray for all migrants today and throughout the coming days that may fall victim to cruelty of other human beings.   May they find sanctuary from the government and I.C.E.  May they find someone to help them legally through the process.  If you know a migrant, please reach out, grant them shelter and protection against an unjust government.   It’s time to stop talking and take action!  Resistance and protest is NOT futile!

Enjoy this song by Joan Baez written by the legendary Woody Guthrie.   It’s more popularly known as DEPORTEE and is a perfect anthem for our time.

and this one, Ice el Hielo – english lyrics below.

Ice the ICE

Ice Water Frozen Solid.
ICE. Immigration Customs Enforcement.
ICE. The ice.

Eva passing the cloth on the table there is
taking care that everything shines like a pearl.
When the patron arrives, do not complain again.
Do not be the thing that is accused as illegal.

Jose attends the gardens, they look like Disneyland
Handles an old truck without the license.
It does not matter if he was a taxi driver there in his homeland
That does not count for Uncle Sam.

The Ice is loose in those streets
You never know when you’re going to touch us
now the children cry at the exit
They cry when they see that mom will not come
One stays here, another stays there,
That happens to go to work.

Marta arrived as a child and dreams of studying.
But it becomes difficult without the papers.
Those who were born here are left with the laurels,
But she never stops fighting.

The Ice is loose in those streets
You never know when you’re going to touch us
Now the children cry at the exit
They cry when they see that mom will not come
One stays here, another stays there,
That happens to go to work.