Of Camps and Kids in Cages

Like a lot of you, I’m struggling a lot with what to do and say in this moment marked by the administration’s ostentatiously immoral immigration policies. I hit a breaking point when I saw in passing a post from someone I was, until yesterday, connected to on social media. I’m putting my words here (with a gloss of the responses and the identifying details removed), in an effort to think through for myself the stakes in this moment.
I also, I suppose, need to vent a little.

I saw you repost a tweet from the president in support of his policies attacking our immigrant brothers and sisters, apparently approvingly.
If I’m wrong, then tell me so. If I’m right, then tell me that too.
We all need to stand up for what’s right now, more than ever. The immigration policies of the US government are now and long have been absolutely wrong by any moral standard. There’s no argument to be had, here, I just wanted to let you know where I stand.
The reply that came ignored my point that this is about morality, not law, claiming that the president is simply enforcing the law.

—, this is not a question of law. If you read my first email, you’ll see that I wrote that the question is a moral one, above and beyond that of the law. Slavery, genocide against the Indians, violence against striking workers, Jim Crow segregation, Japanese internment, forced sterilization, and many other horrible things this country has done were within the law. As you’ll see from those examples, legality does not make it right.

The law as written is bad, but the administration, spearheaded by white nationalist extremists like Stephen Miller and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, is attempting to achieve something far beyond the law. If this were only about enforcing the law on immigration, they would not be simultaneously attempting to curb Green Cards for family members [denouncing it as “chain migration” in their incendiary rhetoric] and prosecuting asylum seekers as criminals.
If you were to listen to the people who work on this issue every day, you would know that there’s virtually no one new successfully coming across the border illegally anymore. Many of the outrages we’re seeing are against people seeking asylum after fleeing extraordinarily violence in their homes in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. There’s no need to build a wall because we already essentially have one. The rhetoric coming from the administration is designed to sow hatred and fear of some of the poorest, most desperate people in the Western Hemisphere, because they think it’s a winning electoral strategy.

Recently, I met a family of refugees from Syria whose story was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. They came here eighteen months ago with nothing, but the community has come together to help them get on their feet, get jobs, get education for their kids, and more. That’s a good side of America, one which will be lost if we do not fight back against hatred and white supremacy.

What you posted hit me in the gut. I read it just minutes after spending a couple of hours watching soccer with my friend —. A wonderful father, — makes beautiful visual art and will be a wonderful asset to this country. He is working hard to become a permanent resident with the support of his American wife so that he can stay here in America to raise their son and avoid life back in Turkey as an ethnic Kurd under that country’s repressive right-wing pseudo-democracy under Erdogan. This administration is working toward putting an end to a process that was already extremely difficult even for people like —.
He told me today a story of his first day in the US back in October, when a woman behind him in line at a store heard his imperfect English and told him he should go back to his country. That’s the kind of thing your man is trying to make acceptable.
Thankfully, the store clerk, himself an immigrant from Pakistan, kicked the woman out of the store. This is another good side of America. We have each other’s backs.

The stories of these people are far more in keeping with my moral vision of this country than the racism, hatred, and division sown by that man and his supporters.

That’s why I have the back of immigrants and reject your notion of this country.
I don’t think anything will change until everyone recognizes these things. For some, it will take a bit of a shock. I hope this email will serve as one. I wrote it because I wanted you to know why I’ve cut our ties on Facebook until such point as you acknowledge the evil represented by this country’s current course.
The reply to that doubled down, claiming that the legal immigration process is fine and that the president is enforcing the law, just the way Obama and Clinton had. We simply need to sit back and let the administration work until such point as Congress changes the law.
I haven’t replied. I don’t think I will. This person is clearly ignoring what I say and is simply repeating bog standard Fox News talking points. I’d long taken this person for a religious conservative and a business republican, but this tips from that position, which I don’t understand but acknowledge as part of American political life, into an unacceptable support for white-supremacist, exclusionary, and immoral practices.