Note: This post originally appeared on the Indivisible14 Medium site.
When someone knocks on my door they are usually trying to sell me something.
I do not fear that knock because I was born here and have all the rights of an American citizen.
If someone is in the country without legal documents, that knock could bring fear. A mother could be arrested and deported without being able to say good bye to her children or arrange for their safe care. A father seized at his workplace could be unable to pick up the paycheck which could provide for his family as he was taken away.
The immigration service known as ICE conducted raids in many Hispanic immigrant communities this week. Immigrants who had arrest records for minor offenses and are required to report in periodically were arrested and summarily deported after routine check-ins. Others were picked up in wide sweeps of apartments and trailer parks where the residents are mostly Latino immigrants, including those who have no legal documentation. The Trump administration claims that these are just routine raids and they are nothing different than what was done under President Obama, but the reports from the neighborhoods where these raids are happening differ. It is reported that dragnets of workers leaving job sites, apprehension of those who show up for mandated court appearances and random parking lot searches of people heading for work happened across the country in targeted spots.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post had articles about these raids over the weekend.
The agents are quoted as stating that nothing has changed and also noting that they are glad that their hands are no longer tied. The official policy of the Obama administration was to deport those with arrest records for violent crimes, not just everyone who might have been picked up without legal social security numbers or lacking proper documents. These changes are definite departures from recent practices; they are causing parents to be fearful and children to worry about leaving their homes to go to school. There are reports of the youngsters who do go to school showing signs of anxiety and demonstrating poor performance in the classroom. The Dreamers under DACA who had to share all of their identity information in order to qualify are concerned about the longevity of the governments’ agreements and where their status might be in a few years, as these papers must be renewed every two years. Many fear that they will now be easy targets.
Indivisible is speaking out against these practices and is supporting immigrant communities across the country.
There are marches and demonstrations planned in many areas. Indivisible members are encouraged to attend town meetings and call their members of Congress to protest the actions of the government and the ICE agents. We need to let everyone know that targeting of vulnerable people is not the American way. We need to speak up about the penalties being established for Sanctuary cities who are threatened with loss of earned federal funds.
To those who ask why we should worry about a few people who are arrested, I point out that there are an estimated 12 million residents in this country without legal status.
I suggest that the humane thing to do is to find some way to provide amnesty and a pathway to citizenship. Certainly that is preferable to separating families and creating a climate of fear. But, under this administration, that solution seems distant indeed. President Trump has used immigrants as scapegoats. He has railed against Hispanics generally and Mexicans in particular, he has castigated Middle Eastern residents, most certainly those of the Muslim religion. He has disgraced the ideal which we have always had of America as a welcoming place of refuge. In his attempts to create this climate of fear, he tried to turn white America against communities of color, whether immigrant or not.
Bad things will continue to happen if good people remain silent. Do not feel safe if no one has targeted your community; may I remind all of this poem, which was penned during Hitler’s regime of terror.
First They Came
Pastor Martin Niemoller
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out — Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out — Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left -To speak out for me.