I do not know how to explain "Mass Deportation" to my children.
I understand that I need to do it.
I am stuck because this is what I know they will ask me: Why are you not stopping this? Why are we not stopping this?
Help me. Please.
When I was young we knew the story of Brother Andrew the Bible Smuggler by heart. He spent decades smuggling the banned books into communist countries for illegal Christians. ("But Christians can't be illegal, Woman!" Oh. You don't say.) This passed for a thriller when we were young, and why shouldn't it? This was life and death. Today, there are entire organizations who continue to do this work on a much larger scale. It's illegal. But the laws are bad. Right? Yes.They are terrible.
As I got older I learned about all the people who used cover occupations or flat out lied to become missionaries in "closed" countries. While these governments would deny a visa for a missionary, they may welcome an English teacher or a business man. It is a risky business and some of them have paid dearly for their decisions. Their calling versus willfully disobeying the laws of the countries that they set up in. But.The laws are bad. Right? Yes. Of course they are.
In fourth grade I replayed the scene in Corrie Ten Boom's biography where she flung her papers into the hidden closet and closed up all the Jewish people she was hiding in her attic over and over again in my mind. What would I do? Would I be quick enough to turn the mattresses to the cool side to fool the Nazis? Would I grab my glasses in time? Where we would we put the people in our split level BC Box House? I would shake myself out of this logistical nightmare. This would not happen. My mom asked me why I was rereading The Hiding Place over and over. She was worried that I was too preoccupied with the sections about the concentration camps. I was not. I was obsessing over what led to them.
So that's where I'm stuck. The laws are bad and are being made worse.
"Boys, these children that you love and play with may have their parents taken from them. The government will take and sell their stuff that they worked hard for. We do not know if or when it will happen. They made a difficult decision to come here knowing that it would be hard. Some of their parents have been here since they were children and had no choice in the matter. And this is what I also know: people that you know and maybe even love are applauding this decision, voted for this decision, and will (maybe even unknowingly) pay for this decision. People in your school, on the street, and in our family thought that this would be better for you and me in the long run. They are wrong. It is okay to be angry about it. I am angry about it."
"Having papers is important and we've been trying to help_____ get them and it might not work or come in time. Or it might! We don't know. I don't know. I'm sorry that this is happening. We will hope for the best. Sometimes even when you have papers, they take them away for making mistakes. People have to be careful to be careful and you're right, it's not fair. Not even a little bit."
I will probably ask them if they need a tissue or if they have any questions. I will try to explain how hard people work to gain legal status and how hucksters determined that the best way to get their way was to incite fear with lies. We live in a nation of people inciting fear with lies. I will ask them to show extra kindness and compassion to their classmates and what it looks like to stand up to bullies. I will tell them that we will do what it takes to help, even as we do not know what kind of help people will need.
At this point I will probably be crying.
This will effectively end the conversation because I've already given them too much to think about and MOM IS CRYING.
Is this what I tell them?
Or do I hope they will not notice?
Maybe this is the part where we test out the way of seeing in the same way that people tell me that they don't see colour.
I was going to list some articles that outline what this new world looks like for undocumented peoples. But those are everywhere, and you all have google. Here is my takeaway: you can be deported if you are accused of a crime. You can be deported if your citizen children take advantage of things like food vouchers or free lunch. You can be deported if you report a crime/are a victim of a crime. You can be deported. And deportation looks like prison for many of our neighbors and friends– because you are first sent to detention centers. Jails. I guess… I guess I'm just wondering how far are we going to let this go? Does your stock portfolio contain private prisons among its listings? You may be about to become rich. How nice for you. Do you think that this is a punishment that fits the crime? May the gods have mercy on your soul.
When Immigrants are No Longer Considered Americans I need to subscribe to the New Yorker again.
"The history of immigration policy is filled with moments like these, when a group goes from subhuman to superhuman within a few short years, because of political winds beyond their grasp. My grandfather and Korematsu were born a year apart, under different circumstances, and embodying two distinct possibilities of American life. It’s a reminder that the “Creed of Democracy” contains limits—that no amount of assimilation or integration will protect you when an alien requires conjuring; that being a model citizen means little when laws can be enforced arbitrarily, and you no longer qualify as one. Yet many of us still try to live up to such impossible standards."
Ex Neo Nazis Explain What's Driving the Alt-Right Please do not stick your head in the sand and believe that this is not what's driving so much of this. I recognized my first "Nazis-not-Nazis" in our local mall years ago. Days after, I still puzzled over the dissonance between the stereotype and what was in front of my face.
"…when I was part of the movement was to make the unreasonable sound reasonable. So you could take the Nazi ideology and use a different language to make it sound very reasonable. If you put on a shirt and a tie with a suit, and tell people to go to college, don't get tattoos, and go mainstream, it makes white supremacy appear reasonable. I did that during my time in the movement. And it's funny to see it 20 years later, and that's exactly what the whole movement looks like now."
Milo Yiannopoulas and The Church of Winning These were never really my people, but maybe they resemble those who I used to think were my people? I don't know, but either way it doesn't make a difference now. These are not my people. This is unrelated to immigration, but it goes in the same pot as far as I'm concerned.
"White evangelicals voted for Trump by a wide margin; eighty percent supported him, according to exit polls. But the election didn’t resolve the questions; a month into his presidency, Trump supporters are still defending the indefensible."
Thank you! Reading, listening. I did similar things with The Hiding Place–I still remember the creepiness of the Gestapo potentially feeling for a warm spot on the mattress, Corrie’s prison bag that she had to leave. I used to wonder where in our house we could hide people.