No one can watch the waves of arrests of immigrants this past week without a shudder of fear. Under the pretext that those being arrested are criminals – the worst of the worst – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested over 700 people in a series of blitzkrieg assaults on people they claimed were both undocumented and criminals. They also claimed that it was continuing the policies of the previous administration, and that is not true.
The raids were carried out simultaneously in several states. Unlike previous arrests, the “collateral damage” swept up anyone in proximity regardless of status and for whom no warrants existed. They merely had to appear to be immigrants. Whole apartment complexes were turned out, people were fingerprinted without a shred of concern for their status, and workplaces were raided even again as no warrants existed for anyone other than a specific person. Checkpoints at intersections and highways stopped people demanding “papers” that not everyone carries. Such people were swept up and arrested.
Of those with some kind of record, the majority appear to have been for minor crimes, not for felonies. It did not matter. No one present at a raid was spared.
Now we get word that a new Executive Order will use false information to promote a policy denying green card status to entirely lawfully present people who have followed the rules and are asking to be permanent residents with, for many, hopes of citizenship.
The pretext is not that they are a burden to our society but that they might be. Using the utterly discredited idea that immigrants are a charge on our social service system – when in fact they contribute far more than they ever get – those who ordinarily would obtain a green card for long-term residence can now be denies if they might someday obtain a means-tested public benefit.
This means natural-born children of immigrants who are already eligible for health care and other services will also be denied or the acceptance of health care, food assistance, etc. used against their parents’ ability to obtain permanent residence. All this is in the Executive Order being created by the White House, despite a detailed study by the Center for American Progress that showed immigrants overall documented and lawfully present, use far fewer public services than the rest of the population.
With ICE raids increasing and lawful presence now threatened to those who ‘played by the rules’, families are being torn apart. Citizens, mostly but not exclusively young children, are losing their parents to deportation and being eft stranded in the United States.
You shall love the alien as yourself. Lev. 19:34
You shall not deprive the resident alien…of justice. Deut.24:17.
We are called as people of justice and people of faith to stand against the cruelty of dehumanizing immigrants. Whether they are lawfully present or not, they are human beings seeking what every immigrant who came here has wanted – a chance for a safer, better life.
These raids and the proposed ban on permanent residency for using resources into which immigrants have paid is a travesty of our entire idea of justice. President James Madison asserted that aliens owe temporary obedience to our laws and in return are entitled to Constitutional protections. In 1981 the Supreme Court denied Texas the right to ban immigrant children from school. In 2001 in Zadvydas v Davis the Court again ruled that the due process of the 14th Amendment applies to everyone whose presence may be or is “unlawful, involuntary, or transitory.”
These presumptions of right are now being ignored.
We urge you and your congregations to consider the many ways in which you might help. Normal advocacy such as calling the White House is not available. The White House phone line has been eliminated. There are other ways to comment, however. Whether they are read and forwarded to the president is not clear, but here are the options:
www.whitehouse.gov/contact or send a message through Facebook Messenger. For government information by topic, visit www.usa.gov or call 1-800-FED-INFO
In addition, we encourage every congregation and concerned individual to become familiar with the Sanctuary work of our key allies in the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity.
Sanctuary is not without risk, especially in these days of unknown consequences. IM4HI has done excellent preparation work giving you the best legal and moral guidance on whether your congregation should participate and what you can do and how you can do it. We do not encourage individuals to do this until every factor is known, but congregations, together, have much greater presence and power than isolated homes.
You will see their office numbers and addresses as well as the guide to Sanctuary on these web pages.
We must do what we can for justice for all people no matter who they may be.
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of those who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Mat, 25:40.
Do all you can, howsoever you can, for as long as you can.