Commentary

06.27.18

WHY WE CAN’T STAY SILENT.

By

Immigration agent at a home

I will never forget the day my son was born. I knew the moment I first held him that there was nothing I wouldn’t do to keep him safe and ensure he had the best possible life. This instinctual drive to protect and nurture our children is shared by mothers and fathers everywhere. It is why, in America, parents pay premium prices for safe neighborhoods, good schools and healthy foods. We make sacrifice after sacrifice for our children – and we would have it no other way.

Make no mistake: The parents who bring their children to our borders seeking asylum are doing so because they too are willing to do anything to keep their children safe and provide them with the best possible life. In this way, they are no different than you or me. They are fleeing violence and persistent deprivation of their basic human needs. And they come to America because they have heard stories of our greatness. They come believing that in doing so their children will not only survive, but will have a chance at a decent life. They come wanting to contribute to all that makes America great. They come wanting to keep their children safe.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Shamefully, under the current administration’s draconian policies, asylum seekers are met with a viciousness that sends chills up my spine. Up until June 20, when Donald Trump issued a grossly delayed executive order (to “fix” a problem he himself started), children were being taken from their parents at the border, and the parents were given little to no information about their safety or whereabouts.

So while they are no longer being separated upon entering the country, they are being detained together, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters in detention centers. This is another HORRIBLE policy by the Trump administration.

Luckily, on June 26, a judge in California issued a directive demanding the government to reunite all children and parents within 30 days – for situations where the child is less than 5 years of age, the reunion is ordered to happen in 10 days. To be clear, border conditions for asylum seekers have never been great, but the policy of criminalizing them upon arrival and forcibly detaining them is inhumane and it most stop now. Cramming immigrant families into prison camps is the latest directive from Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.

While this terror is happening at the Southern Border, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) recently conducted raids in Ohio at unprecedented levels. Undocumented residents are being rounded up by the hundreds, detained in prisons, and fast-tracked toward deportation. President Trump laid out his intentions in a tweet this past weekend: “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.” That is not how this country works! Clearly, the President has no regards for the U.S. Constitution and its guaranteed right to due process.

Add to this Representative Paul Ryan’s ridiculous immigration bill which will only bolster the administration’s cruel efforts, and it becomes clear that we are in the middle of a battle. But let’s be clear: This is not just a battle to be fought by our undocumented brothers and sisters, it is a battle that involves ALL of us! When we allow the rights of one group to be ignored, we risk our own rights being trampled. The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best in his infamous Letter from the Birmingham Jail:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

We simply cannot afford to be silent about the gross disregard for the humanity and rights of asylum seekers and the undocumented community, both in Ohio and across the nation. History has shown us what happens when the masses turn a blind eye to the infringement of one group’s rights – everyone’s rights are weakened and a level of brutality is able to occur that is unforeseen at the onset. One need only to look at the Holocaust, or Japanese-American Internment camps, or the decimation of indigenous Americans, or the recent mass incarceration of Black and brown people for an example.

So now isn’t the time to watch in hopeful silence from the sidelines. For to be silent is to be complicit in the unraveling of the very foundation of America – our Constitution. NOW is the time to fight. NOW is a pivotal moment where we must decide through our collective action or inaction what kind of America we will be.  We must fight like OUR rights and humanity depends on it – because they do!

ACT NOW:

Attend a rally on June 30th for another national day of action to keep families together at the border.

Pressure federal legislators to stand with us in stopping the expedited deportation of the more than 200 individuals being detained after the recent ICE raids in Sandusky, Castalia and Salem, OH.

Become an ACLU of Ohio supporter.

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