"As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration; if you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values."
Donald Trump? Nope, that was the first sentence of a January 4th statement by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson after the RAIDS he ordered on unaccompanied minors were executed days earlier. The RAIDS, having been announced at the apex of the Holiday Season, created a tsunami of fear after the New Year that crashed upon families already living in anxiety. Johnson's statement later went on to talk about priority deportations but how can you get past the bully-posturing of Johnson's opening line. He meant it - ICE detained 121 mothers and children, mostly from regions boasting anemic success rates for asylum cases. Since then, more than 330 people have been apprehended and DHS is saddling up for another set of raids which will be much larger in scope, as reported by Reuters, taking place over an entire month, not a couple of days like before. The RAIDS are now being called "Operation Guardian."
Guardian? From what? Traumatized children in tattered princess t-shirts having survived a perilous obstacle course through Mexico from Central America's dangerous Northern Triangle? (The past year, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have tallied 17,422 murders which was an increase of over 10 percent since the year before). Guarding us from desperate youth and families looking for empathy from the "nation of immigrants" as America has been known? For God's sake, even the first president George Washington presciently said over 200 years ago, "I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind." Yeah, me too.
In this case, the "virtuous and persecuted" are terrified children and mothers looking for refuge because, well, they are refugees and should be treated as such. Families don't want their children to go back to life-threatening situations in the home countries, and neither would any American. According to an investigation by The Guardian, from January 2014 to October 2015, up to 83 people the US deported back to Central America were killed.
But because of DHS' calloused approach to the unaccompanied minors' crisis, which is expected to rise this summer, a different shroud of terror follows them here in the US - ICE agents. The Southern Poverty Law Center found the raids from earlier this year "trampled legal rights, subjected mothers and children to terrifying and unnecessary police encounters, and [tore] families apart." Stories swirled across communities of ICE agents picking up youth on their way to school or luring them out of churches, which has caused widespread panic among families afraid to leave their homes. Churches, schools, places of work, and health clinics have all seen a drop in certain communities.
This is a humanitarian issue, not an immigration issue. Yet it's being portrayed as an immigration problem which feeds into the anti-immigrant rhetoric in this preposterous election. Mexican/Latinos, Muslims here or abroad, and other refugees are in the crosshairs of Donald Trump and others who see the traction they can get from the hate-speech. But the Trump-induced fantasies of impossibly high fences along the border and mass deportations are just talk at this point while the DHS RAIDS are action. I have seen the outrage against Trump's abhorrent talk but where is the outrage against DHS's insidious actions?
I applaud the lawmakers, activists and recently youth who have condemned the RAIDS. Amplify the protest. We need to increase the national pressure on DHS, which has frankly been sporadic, to STOP THE RAIDS. We need to push for asylum, which is what you should provide children and families trying to survive and looking for the "lamp beside the golden door" as the pedestal of Lady Liberty states so warmly as she has to countless people over history ...
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
That statement is absolutely "consistent with our ... values," Sec. Johnson.
STOP THE RAIDS! AHORA!