With all the crazy that is out there now, it is easy to get distracted and forget what really matters: People are getting hurt. Families are being torn apart. Children are coming home from school to find their parents gone, swept up in a xenophobic-dystopian-fantasy-come-to-life that is the United States, 2017.
This is about why politics matters – because politicians create policy and policy can tear our country apart, turn us from what our country stands for toward what a few angry white men want us to stand for. That can’t happen. It is time to fight back with everything we have, and we have more than you think.
We have the tools – electronics, social media, media, and the First Amendment - still: Use them. Document everything. Use the rights we cherish in this country and still have to protect those immigrants whose rights are being violated. Videotape. Take pictures. Get details – badge numbers; license plates, faces and names. Share them widely on social media and on the news media.
There are practical reasons for this. Details will help families find their loved ones and figure out what happened, where they are being held and what they can do next.
We have the moral high ground – there are fewer apathetic Americans among us than there have been in years but even those who have not yet become angry and scared enough to participate in some way can be moved to action when this abstract idea “immigration” is presented to them as a human being, a neighbor or a co-worker being treated like a criminal, like an animal.
We have the numbers. Gather those newly awakened, newly angered, formerly apolitical friends and colleagues. Hit the streets, pick up the phones, work locally to get your voices heard, and heard loudly, saying “no,” and promising to deliver real consequences to those who would ignore you. Even in the reddest of states, cities and towns, there are enough of you to matter. Find each other and demand that local government stop communicating with ICE, that your city, your state even, become a sanctuary.
Finally, we have the future. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. We are doing this all now because this is the first step in the larger, long-term fight. We cannot let families be separated but we cannot assume either that when things quiet down – if things quiet down – that it is enough. The America we believe in, where diversity is valued, where every human being’s worth and contribution is recognized and celebrated, is not going to be restored by protecting those who are unfortunate enough to be targeted today. It will be restored when we all stand together, when the discrimination stops and our immigration system is fixed.