We Have Forgotten We Belong To Each Other

On Monday night, Trump tweeted that next week ICE “will begin the process of removing millions the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Remember all the articles after the election that told us our fear was overblown? Never mind that from the first time Trump came down a gold escalator to tell us that Mexicans were rapists, that the only way to make our country great again was to keep out all of the brown people, that we’ve been told to take Trump seriously but not literally. Do you remember every single person who told you that night to calm down? Who has told you since?

On election night 2016 I wasn’t afraid for myself. I’m white, able bodied, relatively well off. By the privileges bestowed upon me by our society, I’m relatively safe. But there are approximately 11 million people living in this country without the documentation that we’ve all decided proves you belong here. They work, they own homes, they pay taxes. They drive their children to school, they go to the grocery store. They make dinner and sometimes they eat dessert. Sometimes they fight. Sometimes they forget to take out the trash. Sometimes they go to parties and sometimes they get the mail for their neighbors and sometimes they walk their dogs and feed their cats and forge their parents signatures on permission slips.

Perhaps they don’t have the proper paperwork, haven’t filled out the right forms or taken the 8th grade level civics exam our President surely couldn’t pass or recited the pledge of allegiance I stopped saying in high school out of sheer boredom. But they are part of us, part of the economic system we built on their backs, part of the communities we love, part of the schools and restaurants and hospitals and corner stores and parks and families that hold the unfinished promise of the United States burning in their hearts when the rest of us our doing our damndest to stamp it out.

On election night I was scared for them. Scared for people our president has hated for decades, for the people who bear his violence the way I never will. I was scared in a naive way, in a stupid way, in a way that could never understand the deep terror that is deeply embedded in the fabric of our country.

As in all things, the Trump administration takes the insidious darkness under girding our culture and our politics and brings it forward, makes it so much more obvious and overt. With the creation of ICE in 2003, the fragile structures of our immigration system started to break apart. ICE was the first real law enforcement agency solely dedicated to internal enforcement and deportation. As a result, deportations have been accelerating for years. And now detentions are up, families are being separated, and concentration camp experts are reminding us that we have them in the United States, that we’ve had them in the United States before and that if we don’t find a way to deal with the hateful white supremacy in our society, we will have them again and again and again.

Its remarkable how impossible it seems sometimes, to remember that these are humans we are dealing with. People with lives and families and internal monologues and bad habits and secret dreams and sweet tooths. People that we are ripping apart from their families, people we are sending away or caging up or breaking apart.

People who are dying.

This isn’t a fight about immigration enforcement or borders, though we do need to have those fights. This isn’t even a fight about laws, although those do need to change. This is a fight about basic human decency. About empathy. About our government’s insistence on demonizing and dehumanizing whole swaths of humanity so that the rest of us don’t notice when they go missing, when they start dying, when they are locked up in cages. It’s about our ability to recognize the violence, to stare it directly in the face, to put our bodies in front of it. It’s about knowing that as soon as we see other people as distinct from us, as something ‘other’ we too become the agents of violence.

There are pockets of miracles all over the world, people who even in the face of incomprehensible violence and pain, find joy and brilliance and softness and love. And we owe it to them and to ourselves to remember that they belong to us and we to them, and to try to imagine the boundless possibilities of a world where we see as much humanity in others as we do in ourselves.

We need a new president.

We need progressive representatives in government who know the stakes, who understand the urgency, who aren’t afraid and won’t back down from a fight.

And we need to show up. Click here for ways to help.

** title is a quote from Mother Theresa**

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