Show Your “Papers” Are You a Citizen?
It is troubling to think about ICE agents arresting people at work, on their way to work – stealing people away and not allowing their families to ever see their loved one again before s/he is deported.
It is disturbing to see that the promise made by 45, to take immigrants who had committed criminal acts first, has nothing to do with the way deportations are actually being carried out. Perhaps there are not enough criminal immigrants so ICE has to go after people with families, and caregivers, and people with jobs.
A friend who lives in northern New York, near the Canadian border, sent us a copy of a comment from one of his friends in which this person, who voted for Trump, was shocked when two of his neighbors, farmers, close friends, were deported. He had not even realized they were here without using proper channels; they had been here so long and they had been embedded in the community for so long. How did ICE find them? Did someone offer a tip? The commenter did not say how ICE became aware of the status of these old boys. The cost of their decisions, made so long ago, is high. Who gets the farm? Did these guys have families? Can their families keep the house, and the land, and the animals?
We have a statute of limitations on rape. This terrible assault cannot be prosecuted after a certain number of years. There is no such limitation on deportation, a victimless crime.
We can expect that we too may end up being emotionally affected by the sad fact that families are being torn apart by deportations, that children may be left without parents, that people may be returned to nations still in turmoil where they may be at risk, that people are returned to nations they do not even remember.
We may also be affected in ways that are personal to us. I cannot remember ever being stopped on the street or in a public space or even when traveling within the US by anyone asking me to prove that I am a citizen. In fact we are assured that legal citizens will hardly notice that 11 million people are being deported, as if these people have been completely invisible, have made no friends, have never participated in any aspects of our community.
Perhaps there are Americans who will feel vindicated by the disappearance of these “illegal” people. While Trump was making his promises in his primary rallies to send them all back to their countries of origin, people seemed to telegraph that this would finally offer justice to card-carrying Americans who were being displaced from their jobs by these immigrants and spending their tax dollars to pay for benefits that were going to people who should not be getting them. People cheered. The chant, of course, did not mention actual people. The chant was “build the wall!”
But the actual deportation push is more likely to start feeling like some strange science fiction movie where people who were there a minute ago are suddenly gone, leaving grieving friends and family behind who will need to be comforted. Or we may be one of those people who needs to be comforted.
And if you have heard anything about Trump’s budget he still plans to make some rather severe cuts to our benefits. This heartless move will actually prove that the GOP hatchet seems to have had nothing to do with immigrants, documented or undocumented.
When I read about ICE agents on a train, a train stopped in my little city, going up and down the aisles checking people’s papers, there is no description of any differences between the way people who are citizens were treated and the way “illegals” are treated. Clearly, it is impossible to tell “legal” status by just looking at people. There are no badges, no markers, no secret signs or handshakes to sort us out. Obviously the ID’s of everyone will have to be checked.
And, going forward, how will we be able to devise a system that leaves citizens free to just go about their business unchecked? How will that be possible? For each piece of supposed justice people get, some modicum of freedom will be lost. Pretty soon people may be tattooed with a SKU at birth. Being scanned in the land of the free? Not our American dream. If Big Brother (not the TV show, the novel, 1984 by George Orwell) is not watching us yet, it will be a tiny baby step to a system of constant surveillance.
There are very good reasons to resist this police state approach to deportation. The possible repercussions for we the people are many and should be quite frightening. If we want a system for immigration that works, fine. Perhaps it’s doable, perhaps not. Let’s try to design that system. It is our fault that people could live in America without going through proper channels. It is our fault because there is no system in place.
Design a system that works. Put it into operation and then excuse those who are already here unless, as you yourself proposed, they commit crimes. If we allow these mass deportations we will all pay a price. Each inhumane thing we condone sends another crack through our republic/democracy and may eventually destroy what we have loved and still wish to preserve (despite its flaws).
Two new heartbreaking deportation cases:
A Chemistry professor in Kansas, here 30 years from Bangladesh is being deported:
A Father in Arizona is being deported even though his 5-year-old has cancer.