There are neither enough reporters nor newspapers to cover the great human story of today: the shredding of families to fulfill political goals.
Husbands and fathers are saying goodbye to their American children; and wives and mothers are weeping as they are led away by agents of the U.S. government. They are headed for countries they hardly know and for a future they do know: one of heartache and worry about their loved ones in the United States, and fear for their own survival.
One well-recorded case, thanks to the diligence of local media, was the deportation from Detroit to Mexico of landscaper Jorge Garcia, who was brought to the United States when he was 10 years old. At 39, he was too old to qualify as a “dreamer.”
An Associated Press picture shows him hugging his 15-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son and wife, as she extends her arm to take a parting family photo. There were tears aplenty, but the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had their way and this, to my mind, state-sponsored cruelty went ahead.
If deportation is extended to the innocent dreamers — approximately 800,000 individuals who enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which started in 2012 under President Obama — who have been used mercilessly as political hostages, the horror will be multiplied. ICE agents will round up these kids, who have done nothing wrong, and airports will figuratively be drenched in tears.
Slavery left an indelible stain on America. The deportations will come to be a second stain. Many came to America in chains, now many will leave in them.
Every time I write about deportations, I get abusive emails, like this one in which the writer asked rhetorically, “What is it about ‘illegal’ that you don’t understand?”
To that, I offer this battery of replies:
What is it about innocent that you don’t understand?
What is it that is right about sending human beings into danger and possible death?
Where are the evangelical churches with their professed commitment to “family values”?
When did the tears of children, mothers and fathers lose their capacity to wash away the ink of officialdom?
What is it about laws that is so immutable? Are they not made and revoked all the time?
What is it about America that has caused it to turn its back on immigrants when ancestors, save for Native Americans, came from faraway places without papers but with a desire to escape everything from religious persecution (the Pilgrims), to starvation (the Irish), war and genocide (Jews, Armenians, Rwandans)?
I have always opposed free immigration into the United States and Europe, particularly from a single country. That way you get conquest through migration. Some years ago I argued with a friend, a conservative writer, who took me to task. “We are an immigrant country,” he insisted. He still writes about public affairs, but he is silent on immigration.
Once they, the immigrants, are here, assimilation underway or complete, the equation is changed. They have left their Egypt, crossed their Red Sea and they are here: Americans in all but the paperwork. They deserve to live in peace.
Meanwhile the ICE agents, with their paper authorization and their handcuffs, have about them the whiff of authoritarianism; the crushing power of the state coming down on the individual.
The deportation stain is spreading.