By Bill Mefford
Have you noticed that donald trump’s one-liner he has repeated over and over on immigration – “we only want people who love us” – seems to be much more about his own narcissistic needs than it is about the complex and broken system of immigration? The Narcissist-in-Chief is so obsessed with himself he wants to remake the country into his image and that is a frightening thought.
What is especially alarming is that donald trump has spent his life surrounding himself with sycophants that he now wants to have a country filled with sycophants; allowing in only people who “love us.” I am not even sure how this could codified into policy anyway. How do you systematize entrance based on someone’s love for a country? How do we structurally determine something so arbitrary? You see, when you are a narcissist, you don’t care about the complete inconvenience and harm you cause others. You don’t care when others are hurt by rigid and nonsensical enforcement of a broken system that is penalizing people who have built their lives and their families in local communities throughout the country. Many undocumented immigrants have been in this country for decades. They are not threats to those around them or to this country. The primary threat to this nation occupies the White House.
I talked with an excellent attorney the other day via Facebook and he told me he has clients who are undocumented and who check in regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and who present absolutely no threat to their communities in any sense. But they are now living in absolute terror because widespread raids against immigrant communities have begun. trump has taken ICE off its leash.
Right now immigrant communities are being targeted by state-sponsored terror. There is no other word or phrase that is appropriate for what is happening other than terror. Although ICE initially lied about these raids, they have now confirmed that they have raided homes and workplaces in six states, with further evidence from folks on the ground in four more. The states where we this has been confirmed include: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Here are some of the reports from groups like United We Dream (a group I hope you will consider supporting) that describe some of the Gestapo-like tactics that ICE has been using:
- In California and Texas ICE agents set up roadblocks and demanded papers from citizens, immigrants, and undocumented people alike,
- An anonymous immigration official told the Washington Post that “big cities” are “a target-rich environment.” That is why we have seen places like Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, and Los Angeles as some of the main places where raids have been happening,
- Just this weekend, we heard credible threats that ICE agents were planning on surrounding churches in Kansas City on Sunday morning to apprehend immigrants going to worship. Thanks to the quick-thinking and well-organized work of advocates there, they were on the streets early and warned folks of what to expect and the ICE agents did not show.
- As many folks have seen or heard the story, a wife and mother of 2 U.S. citizen children in Phoenix was detained and later deported after showing up for her regular check in at the local Immigration Customs Office. Bravely, protesters soon arrived and some even blocked the van in a show of prophetic civil disobedience.
The truth is we must have many more people to respond to these unjust actions through community mobilization and support, just as they did in Phoenix!
I hope as you read this you are asking, “what can I do and what can my faith community and networks all do to stop this brand of state-sponsored terror?” That is EXACTLY what we need to be asking. If you aren’t asking yourself this, check your pulse.
Below are a few things you and your faith community can do now, and, as always, it begins with relationships. Relationships are the heart of all justice work and if we are not engaged in incarnational relationships with people directly impacted by injustice then we really aren’t engaged in justice work at all. We just have a hobby.
So here it goes:
- Join a rapid response team in your area.
- Create a phone tree that you can call when ICE raids occur so that communities can be alerted and word spread about what is happening. Again, make sure you are connected with immigrant communities so that you are conveying what is really happening and what the real needs are.
- Make a plan, based in consultation with local immigration-led organizations, for practical ways you can be of support. To find organizations in your areas please see www.informedimmigrant.com.
See how many of these are based on mutual relationships? Incarnational relationships are revolutionary.
But we need you to do more. The week of February 20 Members of Congress (MOC) will be back in their states and districts. We need MOC to stand up to donald trump and insist he behave…you know, like a human being (tall order, I know). MOC MUST insist that the ICE raids stop and that real solutions be put forward. There is a lot of RESISTANCE happening throughout the country and we need to be a part of it.
So, for the February 20 recess, there are a number of town halls that have been scheduled. If you see one scheduled, then gather twenty or more (preferably much more) of your friends and go to the town hall, carry signs that say stop the raids or allow in refugees (and be creative!) and insist that your MOC answer your concerns. And please take pics and send them to us at Fig Tree where we will feature them on our Facebook page.
If your area is not listed in the list of town halls, then you need to plan an event ASAP and invite your MOC to join you. You can be as creative as you want or as simple as you want, but you need to recruit folks from your faith community and your networks to join you. There is a toolkit to guide you as you plan your event.
This is no joke. We need literally hundreds of events as well as hundreds of people filling these town halls to make an effective impact. You can help with this. You and I can do this. We HAVE to do this.
Provide practical support and strengthen existing networks.
Attend your MOC town hall or plan an event in your community.
And get ready for escalation as we take sanctuary to the streets.
More is coming. This is what RESISTANCE looks like.