From its first day, the Trump administration has tried to stop immigrants, to punish immigrants, and to foster anti-immigrant prejudice. It is not working. Every repressive, anti-immigrant move is met with greater resistance from the majority of Americans who understand that immigrants enrich this country and that repression and prejudice are wrong. And immigrants keep coming, despite all attempts to build legal or physical walls.
The United States has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising campaigns in Central America, telling people not to come north. The Border Patrol has turned away asylum seekers at the border, sometimes telling them the country is full or that Trump has ended asylum. U.S. immigration detention facilities are filled to overflowing, with appalling conditions inside the mostly for-profit prisons.
New regulations put in place by Attorney General Jeff Sessions severely limit access to asylum for those who do manage to enter the country. Without Congressional authorization and against the wishes of the Mexican government, the administration has transferred $20 million to DHS to pay the Mexican government to capture and deport Central Americans passing through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border.
Despite everything the administration has done, people keep coming, overflowing the available immigration jail spaces. This weekend, the Border Patrol began releasing large groups of people, dumping 100 at one local Arizona church.
Many come here fleeing violence. Others flee starvation.
“What can we do?” Ms. Juárez said two weeks ago, speaking through a translator. “We have to feed our children.” …
“About 76 percent of the population in Guatemala’s western highlands is impoverished, and 67 percent of children younger than 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, according to the United States Agency for International Development.
“Over one million Guatemalans in the region’s rural areas lack electricity. Many earn little to no profit from the coffee, corn, beans and other agricultural products they grow, given the steadily declining price of farm goods.”
Within the United States, resistance to the administration’s anti-immigrant policies is building. Some comes from unlikely places, like this mother in Iowa who is voting for a Democratic candidate for Congress in November:
“Eleven years ago, after multiple miscarriages, Nicole Baart of Sioux Center adopted the first of three children from Africa. An evangelical Christian who once headed Northwest Iowa Right to Life, she was raised to believe that “Christianity and Republican values lined up.”
“But as the mother of black kids, Baart began to see subtle and not-so-subtle attacks on those she held dearest. It bothered her that her congressman, Steve King, kept a confederate flag on his desk. “I find it very disheartening that King calls himself pro-life but says things like, ‘We can’t rebuild our civilization with other people’s babies,’ ” said Baart in an interview. “I’m raising other people’s babies. That’s what adoptive families do.”
Resistance takes place on street corners across the country, with the small groups of #StandOnEveryCorner. Rubén Rosario reports on St. Paul’s group:
“There’s Teresa Ortiz, a mother of three who lives in the neighborhood and accidentally walked into the protest after visiting the neighborhood library at the corner.
“As an immigrant myself, as a new American citizen, and as somebody who has lived in Central America and has viewed firsthand the situations these refugees are escaping, I felt a sense of responsibility and care to do something,” she wrote in a recent Facebook post.”
Resistance comes from DACA recipients and people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and refugees and asylees, fighting back in the courts and organizing for political action. Orlando Zepeda came to the United States from El Salvador nearly 25 years ago. He is one of the plaintiffs in the so-far-successful lawsuit challenging Trump’s action to end TPS for Salvadorans and others:
“We have to fight,” Mr. Zepeda, 51, said. “This is a country of just laws, with a fair process for justice. You have to fight for it. We can either be afraid or we can fight, and it is much more effective to fight.”
If you want to do something, here are some places to join in:
- #StandOnEveryCorner in St. Paul—every day, 5-6 p.m., Fairview and Marshall Avenue in front of the library
- Mobilization to Support Minneapolis Municipal ID Monday, Nov 26 – 1:00 pm City Hall, Father of Waters Statue
Not ready for a demonstration? That’s okay—how about seeing a play or reading a book?
I Come From Arizona is at the Children’s Theater through November 25, with a panel discussion on immigration after the October 20 matinee. The Hennepin County Library has a list of children’s books with immigration themes.
Books for adults (Call a couple of friends and read them together.)
- Something to Declare (2014) Julia Alvarez—Latin America—Book of essays “capturing the life and mind of an artist as she knits together the dual themes of coming to America and becoming a writer.” (essays)
- How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (2010), Julia Alvarez—Dominican Republic to U.S. (memoir)
- Enrique’s Journey : The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother (2007), Sonia Nazario—Guatemala to U.S. (nonfiction)
- The Late Homecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (2008), Kao Kalia Yang—Laos to United States (memoir)
- The Song Poet (2017) Kao Kalia Yang—Laos to United States (memoir)
- The Devil’s Highway (2005) Luis Alberto Urrea—Mexico, Central America, United States (nonfiction)
- A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (2008) Ronald Takei—excellent immigration history (nonfiction)
- A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota (2016) by Sherry Quan Lee, Heid E. Erdrich, Kao Kalia Yang, et al.—includes many essays by immigrants