Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The inhumane side of immigration issues we ignore so easily

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News January 17, 2018

In the heated  partisan debate over DACA and/or comprehensive immigration reform, or President Trump's racist policies and comments about immigrants, it is so easy to ignore  the impact of political partisanship  on the lives and emotions of the young.  800,000 Dreamers' lives are on the line as anti-immigration ideologues call them criminals.   Those children brought to the US illegally had no intention to break the law; they are victims of the immigration system.  Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of holding DACA kids hostage to their preferred approach to immigration legislation. Democrats had  wanted DACA to be part of  a comprehensive law that includes a path to citizenship.  The GOP opposes  legalization of their status, calling attempts amnesty, ignoring the innocence of Dreamer's  intent and inferring they are  de facto guilty of intending to break the law.

 The President seems not to comprehend the meaning of a" clean bill " in his dialogue with legislators January 9 and by still  apparently  insisting Congress approve the Great Wall of Trump on the border with Mexico as a condition of providing any solution to the Dreamers'  jeopardy. FYI, Mr. President a clean bill for both building a wall and giving status to Dreamers means to stop holding kids  hostage to partisan political demands and campaign promises and  instead  to make those separate bills requiring separate votes of Congress. The Democrats are now prefer the "clean bill" approach, but have indicated they could compromise. In the meantime, a lower court Federal judge granted a temporary halt to the Trump administration's policy to scrap the protection of  Dreamers protected by an Obama memorandum, requiring them to follow a process.  There is hope yet.

In the meantime, let us not forget the inhumane side of our treatment of  undocumented children.  Rick  D. Bailey, a Denver attorney,  posted the following on his Facebook page January 4, and with his permission, his moving account serves as a reminder that we for the sake of politics are doing damage to young lives.
"Today I accompanied a teenage boy and his father to Immigration Court. I accompanied not as an attorney, but rather as a friend through the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC & Coloradans For Immigrant Rights) which provides, among many services, emotional support and presence to immigrants under extreme stress. All of the children scheduled for their initial hearings were first taken into a separate room (with the adults accompanying them) and advised of their rights by some very diligent attorneys from a wonderful local non-profit called Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network - RMIAN. (I don't know whether there are similar organizations for other Immigration Courts.) None of the children were represented by attorneys today, but there was a certain semblance of process given to them in that they were granted time to get an attorney (at their own expense). Many of these children will have good and valid arguments for visas and defenses against removal if they can get attorneys. Each of the children was required to come up to the defense table and be advised by the judge of her or his rights and answer questions. There was an interpreter and they had to wear headsets, as if it were Nuremberg. As I have reflected back on the day, I have become more and more angry. Why are we subjecting children to this? Although the judge was very kind, the sight of a five (5) year old girl and a seven (7) year old girl sitting at counsel table (without counsel) in a courtroom being asked questions by a judge was deeply disturbing. Even some of the children 14 or 17 were uncertain and I suspect it was deeply traumatic for all of them. After all, they are being charged with crimes and threatened with deportation. Is this what we want our country to be? Is this hammer of terror and trauma cloaked in a velvet glove of process what we are about as a nation of immigrants? Are these children criminals because they are undocumented? For more information on our treatment of undocumented children, read "Tell Me How it Ends -- An Essay in Forty Questions" by Valeria Luiselli."

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions: Valeria Luiselli, Jon ...

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