American Kristallnacht?

On the night of November 9, 1938, the Nazi’s paramilitary arm, the Sturmabteilung (SA) stormed cities throughout Germany, demolishing Jewish homes, hospitals and schools, and arresting 30,000 men for no crime other than being Jewish.  The event, lasting two days, was to become known to the world as Kristallnacht, or Crystal Night, for the broken glass that was left behind on the streets.

Will Sunday be the equivalent of Kristallnacht for the U.S.?  On Sunday, Trump plans to have his version of the SA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, round up thousands of immigrants in at least ten cities across the U.S. and take them to detention centers to await deportation.  We are told that these ‘round ups’ might include ‘collateral’ arrests, in other words those who are here legally, perhaps even citizens, but just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on Sunday.

What could possibly go wrong, eh?

Per a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, Trump’s purpose is to use the operation as a show of force to deter families from approaching the southwestern border.  Phrases like “a show of force” disturb me.  Trump and his minions have already proven they have no sense of humanity, and they see any who don’t look like what they see in the mirror, as “the enemy”.  They never heard Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder when they sang …

We all know that people are the same wherever you go
There is good and bad in ev’ryone
We learn to live, when we learn to give
Each other what we need to survive, together alive

Already we have thousands of children, snatched from the arms of their parents and housed in ‘detention’ camps, which have aptly been compared with concentration camps, housed without beds, without basic hygiene necessities, and given inadequate care.  Reportedly, there has also been sexual abuse of some of the children. Now the same ‘man’ who put them there, is planning to implement thousands of arrests and send the detainees, families and children, to similar camps.

Tell me again how this is “America, the land of the free”, the nation that welcomes all with open arms?  Are people in this country really so damn scared of immigrants that they have sold their conscience, that they are willing to turn a blind eye to the atrocities being committed every day by our government?

There is a likelihood … nay, a certainty that some children born in this country, and therefore citizens, will be separated from their parents during these raids. Already, plans have been made for ICE officers to oversee those children until such time as some other family member can get them.  Meanwhile, more children, separated from their parents, crying themselves to sleep at night.  And added to the growing number of children suffering abuse at the hands of a government whose leaders simply do not care.

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony 

Let’s be honest for a minute.  This is not who we are.  This is not the nation the Founders envisioned in 1787.  This is not who we want to be.  And then ask yourself this question:  What’s next?  Or perhaps more apt:  Who’s next?

Say WHAT???

My inbox this morning contained the latest column by one of my favourite journalists, Nicholas Kristof.  As I read his column, I was torn between rage and tears, disbelief and horror.  I present portions of that column, but you can read the entire column here

A Good Samaritan and the Border Patrol

A motorist may have saved a life when she stopped to help three desperate young adults. Then she was arrested.

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

The path to Teresa L. Todd’s arrest began when three desperate Central American migrants waved frantically at her car on a Texas highway one night in February.

At least one other car had hurtled by, afraid to stop. But for Todd, compassion overrode any fear. “I’m a mom,” explained Todd, who has two boys, ages 15 and 17. “And I see a young man who looked the same age and size as my younger son. And if my son was by the side of the road, I would want someone to help.”

Todd, a single mom who works as a lawyer for a city and county in West Texas, found three siblings: two brothers ages 20 and 22 and their sister, Esmeralda, 18. To escape violence, they fled their native El Salvador years ago and recently Guatemala, where friends were murdered and a gang leader wanted to make Esmeralda his “girlfriend.”

Teresa L. Todd was detained by Border Patrol agents after stopping her car to help a group of migrants in Texas. CreditJessica Lutz for The New York Times

Esmeralda was suffering from starvation, dehydration and a potentially fatal syndrome called rhabdomyolysis that can lead to kidney failure. Seeing that Esmeralda was very sick, Todd invited the migrants into her car to warm up, and she began frantically texting friends (including one who is a lawyer for the Border Patrol) for advice about getting Esmeralda medical attention.

A sheriff’s deputy pulled up behind Todd’s car, lights flashing, and a Border Patrol officer arrived shortly afterward. The officers detained Todd for three hours, confiscating her possessions and keeping her in a holding cell.

By stopping to help a stranger, Todd may have saved a life — but this also got her arrested.

“It was totally surreal,” Todd recalled. “Especially for doing what my parents taught me was right, and what I learned in church was right, which was helping people. So finding myself in a holding cell for that, it was hard to wrap my head around.”

Esmeralda was hospitalized for four days, and she and her siblings are now in ICE custody. Todd has not been charged with a crime so far, but the authorities seem to have been considering a federal indictment. I reached out to federal and local officials for comment; they did not respond.

Todd told me that she has no regrets. “I think it’s the right thing to help those in need,” she explained. “That’s what I learned from my parents. That’s what I learned in church.”

“This is all about trying to chill the willingness of people to help others,” Todd said. “A friend told me, ‘The other day, someone tried to flag me down by the side of the road and waved an empty water bottle, and I thought about what happened to you and didn’t stop.’”

Referring to Trump, Michele Bachmann, the former Republican congresswoman, recently said, “We will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetimes.”

I thanked Todd for her humanity, and for helping save a life. She said her assistance had been instinctive.

“I’m simply a mom who saw a child in need and pulled over to try to help,” she said. “The whole time I was by the side of the road, I was thinking: What country am I in? This is not the United States.”

Image may contain: 1 person, crowd and outdoor

First Snarky Snippets of 2019!!!

Okay folks … the holidays are over!!!  Whew … now it’s time to get back into the routine, and what better way to start 2019 than with an abundance of snarkasm?  Perhaps I will make it a tradition to begin every year with Snarky Snippets! snarky-toon 2019 deserves to be started in such a manner, for just a few hours into the year and just look at all that is wrong with the world!  Let’s begin with a man who I have long abhorred … Representative Peter T. King, a republican from New York.


Just last week …

Peter-King-ICE

Now, I first take issue with his statement that ICE is doing a great job, since only two children have died!  ONLY???  What if one of those children had been your own, Mr. King???  But it goes even deeper than that, for also last week, video footage was obtained by The Arizona Republic from the Arizona Department of Health under the public records law.  The videos show children being physically abused – dragged, slapped, and shoved – by staffers at Casa Padre, a migrant shelter operated by Southwest Key. The videos are from September, and the facility was shuttered in October after a number of violations, including failure to obtain background checks on staff members.

Another such facility, Casa Kokopelli, also operated by Southwest Key, has been charged with eleven sex offenses by a staff member against at least eight children in their care.  ProPublica investigated Southwest Key and the sex offenses back in August, and when they asked Southwest Key representative Jeff Eller a question regarding how the company would assure children’s safety in the future, Mr. Eller replied …

“We find the premise of your question dishonorable.”

Say WHAT???  Who’s the dishonourable party here?  And Mr. King says they are all doing a great job because only two children have died so far.

bullshit

This is not the first time Mr. King has crossed my radar, by the way.  In May, I wrote a piece titled An Ugly Voice — Peter T. King.  I will be writing a letter to Mr. King later today.  Meanwhile, anyone want to lay odds that more children will die while held in U.S. custody in the coming year?


Without conscience …Hyde-SmithRemember Cindy Hyde-Smith, the racist woman who won a U.S. Senate seat in a special election in Mississippi in late November?  She said she would happily attend a lynching, and made a host of other racist remarks, yet Trump called her a “fine woman” … I guess he meant that in the same vein as when he called the white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, “fine people”.  Anyway, after her blatantly and sinister racist remarks, a number of people who had donated to her campaign asked for their contributions back, not wishing to be affiliated with such a horrid person.

Aetna, AT&T, Boston Scientific, Facebook, Google, Leidos, Pfizer, Union Pacific, and Walmart all requested their donations back, but Cindy has, apparently, decided she would keep the money.  Legally, she is under no obligation to return the money, and she seems to have no intention to do so.  Surprised, aren’t you?


How does he love thee?

Donald Trump claims to be on the side of the people … says he loves the people (just so long as they aren’t democrats, African-Americans, Muslims, or gay) and just to show them how much he loves them, he has … frozen their pay!  And some 800,000 of them aren’t getting any pay right now, either, thanks to Uncle Donnie!  I’m so happy that he doesn’t love me!

In what was, I hope, his last ‘executive order’ of 2018, with a slash of his pen he played god and froze the salaries & wages of some 2.1 million federal workers!  The military will still get their 2.6% pay increase (not the 10% Trump falsely told the soldiers in Iraq when he visited there at Christmas).  Civilian federal workers were initially slated to receive a 2.1% increase, but back in the summer, Trump began saying that the government could not afford it.  Funny, isn’t it, that we can afford all Trump’s excesses, covering Secret Service expenses for his sons as they flit about the world on Trump Organization business?  We can afford Trump’s near-weekly golf outings and trips to Mar-a-Lago, and he claims we can afford $5 billion to be thrown away on the beginnings of a useless border wall.  But we cannot afford a lousy 2.1% pay increase for the men and women who work to keep the federal government running smoothly.  Damn shame, if you ask me!

And what about last December’s tax cut for the wealthy?  If we could afford to give huge raises to multi-millionaires and billionaires, why can’t we afford to give measly 2.1% pay increases to the woman who helps us sign up for Social Security, or to the man who keeps our planes from crashing, or the person teaching our children?

Congress can and likely will include raises for federal workers in any spending bill they propose after the new Congress is seated in two days, but speculation is that it will be for 1.9%, not 2.1%.  Peanuts?  Sure, but hey … 0.2% of a $60,000 salary means a lot more to the federal worker than the extra million or more the rich coal barons got via Trump’s tax cuts.

I won’t be surprised to see a bad case of the ‘blue flu’ before long in the departments of the federal government.


Okay … that concludes this morning’s snippets.  I just felt the need to show those in power that the 2019 Filosofa is not any kinder or gentler than the 2018 Filosofa was, and I will pursue truth and justice this year even more diligently than last!  Look out, Trumpie … I’m in line right behind Bob Mueller for a pound of your flesh!

Stone Cold Criminals???

The migrant caravan that Donald Trump said we should be so afraid of, that he said was filled with murderers, rapists, and even some Middle-Eastern terrorists, the one he sent troops to the border to defend against, has finally arrived.  Here is what all those “bad hombres” look like:

migrants-3

Lesly, age six, sits in her donated stroller. She has cerebral palsy and cannot walk

migrants-2

María Cáceres and her 15-year-old son Javier.  Javier has Down’s Syndrome.

migrants-4

Migrants pushing strollers on the road to … ???

migrant-girl-teargas

A migrant and her young daughter, who have just had teargas thrown in their faces

Yes, folks, these are but a few of those “stone cold criminals” as Trump referred to them in his early morning tweet:Trump tweet migrants

I cannot say, nor would I, that out of the thousands of people in this caravan, there may not be a few who have committed crimes.  Take a thousand people at random from the middle of any city in the U.S., and odds are that you will find a few who have committed crimes.  But overall, this is a migrant caravan comprised of families fleeing the violence in their native countries, primarily Honduras.

Let’s talk to María Cáceres (pictured above).  María was a tortilla vendor in San Pedro Sula, Honduras when gang members killed two of her brothers and burned down her house. She said she wants asylum in the United States, but really just “wants life to get better now.”

These are people who have, over the past two months, crossed mountains, walked through forests, crossed rivers, been soaked by rains, bitten and stung by insects, all because they are seeking a better life for their children and themselves.  When they crossed into Mexico, riot police attacked them with clubs and teargas, yet they persevered.

And then yesterday, U.S. authorities closed off the busiest port of entry along the U.S. border with Mexico and fired tear gas.  What a welcome to these poor travelers … these human beings!  soldiers at the border.jpgHomeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Sunday that the port of entry was closed “to ensure public safety in response to large numbers of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.”  Frankly, Ms. Nielsen, I would be more afraid of these soldiers than I would be of the migrants.  Public safety???  I think not.

Donald Trump, Kirstjen Nielsen and others calling to close the border, to deny these migrants asylum, lack normal human compassion.  They would deny thousands the right to opportunity, the right to safety, for political purposes.  The U.S. was once known as a country that welcomed asylum seekers, that understood what a wonderful thing diversity was.  Somewhere along the line, we lost our compassion, we lost our humanity.

Trump’s threat to “close the border permanently” is against the law, however as he believes himself to be above the law, believes that the laws do not apply if they are at odds with his whims, I suspect there will be legal challenges and hate-filled rhetoric bouncing about for the next several months.  Just another step in our decline toward becoming a third-world country.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t wish to live in a country where the borders are closed, a country that treats human beings seeking asylum as if they were criminals.  migrant-5

Playing With Children’s Lives

When Donald Trump directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to separate children from their asylum-seeking parents at the southern border, we were horrified by the inhumanity of such an order, and more horrified still by the manner in which the order was carried out.  Today, that horror reaches an all new level.

Last month Trump signed an executive order to stop separating families at the border, in response to the bipartisan hue and cry over the practice.  However, no plans were made to re-unite the families who had already been torn apart, the children in hastily-constructed and poorly-managed detention centers.  It took a court order from U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw to force the government to begin reuniting children with their parents.  Judge Sabraw ruled that all children under 5 be reunited with their parents by July 10th, next Tuesday, and all other children by July 26th.  As I noted in my post on Friday, the Justice Department planned to request an extension in time.  Their claim was that they were doing DNA matching to make certain they reunited the right children with the right parents, and were also conducting criminal background checks on all the parents, as well as any others that will be living in the home.  My antennae went up when I heard this, thinking that in all likelihood the record-keeping of the hasty separations had been so poor that they didn’t know where all the children were.  I was mostly right.

Turns out, it’s the parents they have lost track of, although I will not be surprised when, at some point, it is discovered that there are some children whose whereabouts are unknown.  When Judge Sabraw asked for a status update on Friday, he was told that 19 of the parents with children under 5 had been released from ICE custody into the U.S. and their whereabouts are currently unknown.  Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian said …

“For those folks, in some cases, for example, if we’re not aware of where the parent is, I can’t commit to saying that reunification will occur before the deadline. … We’re still determining what the situation is there and whether those are situations where reunifications may not be able to occur within the timeframe.”

But it gets even better, for 19 parents with children under 5 being held by ICE have actually been deported, and the Justice Department asked Judge Sabraw for ‘clarity’ regarding whether he expected those parents to also be reunited with their children.  They had to ask??? The judge affirmed that they were indeed part of the order.

Judge Sabraw said he would agree to delay the deadline for reunifying the youngest children if the government could provide a master list of all children and the status of their parents. Sabraw ordered the administration to share a list of 101 children with the American Civil Liberties Union by Saturday afternoon. “What I’m expecting is a lot of work over the weekend,” he said during the meeting

The judge scheduled a status conference for 10 a.m. Pacific time on Monday. A government lawyer said she could not attend a status conference over the weekend because she had out-of-town dog-sitting responsibilities.  Excuse me, ma’am, but I think the lives of 3,000 children may be of a higher priority than your dog-sitting duties???

I have to wonder what the Justice Department thought to do with those children whose parents were already deported, since they seemed uncertain when they asked the judge for clarification?  But then, I found the answer … they intended to remand them into the foster care system!

On Friday, six state governors sent a letter addressed to Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The letter begins …

Dear Secretary Azar and Secretary Nielsen:

As governors representing states where separated migrant children are being detained, we write to express our growing concern with this Administration’s ability to reunify families in accordance with the federal court injunction issued on June 26, 2018. Given recent reports suggesting this process is being carried out chaotically and inconsistently, and in light of your agencies’ latest admission that hundreds more separated migrant children are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) than were previously accounted for, we remain deeply concerned that wholly inadequate resources and procedures are in place to ensure children and parents are reunified safely and securely within the court-ordered deadlines.

The letter goes on to say that the responsibility for the children’s welfare and reunification with their parents lies solely in the hands of the addresses, and asks a series of questions related to what is or isn’t being done to ensure the children are reunited without delay.  The letter is signed by Governor Jay Inslee, Washington; Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York; Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Connecticut; Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey; Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania; Governor Kate Brown, Oregon.

The letter was primarily in response to information that HHS considered any placement of a child to amount to a reunification — even if the sponsor wasn’t the parent from whom the child was separated, including a foster care setting.

Meanwhile, rumours abound that some of the children who have been returned have been in less than stellar condition, dirty and lice infested.  And in one case, it is said that a sexual predator is an employee of the facility and has frequent contact with the children.  I do not know how much is true and how much is rumour, so I make no comment on these, other than to say that nothing will surprise me at this point.  The federal government has been an extremely poor steward over the lives of 3,000 children, as well as their families.  We should be ashamed.

More Tears of Shame …

Trump signed an executive order earlier this week that did … nothing.  Nonetheless, that didn’t stop him from preening and patting himself on the back.  While thousands of children remain terrified and separated from their parents, held in old warehouses, tent cities, and wherever the U.S. government can find room to stow them.

Administration officials admit that there is no immediate plan to reunite these children with their families.  Melania Trump visits them wearing a jacket that says, “I don’t care, do U?”  Fox television host Brian Kilmeade says we should not be concerned because “These aren’t our kids … it’s not like he is doing this to the people of Idaho or, uh, or, uh, Texas. These are people from another country.” Members of Congress, congressional candidates, and the press have been denied entry to tour the facilities.  A senator was escorted from the premises by police, while Zak Ringelstein, a candidate for senator from Maine, was handcuffed and arrested for bringing toys, blankets and food for the children.

A number of NGO’s (Non-government organizations) are attempting to help re-unite children and parents, but it is an onerous task.  One such agency is the Texas Civil Rights Project.  The organization has been working with over 300 families and so far, has only managed to find two of the children!  The record-keeping is either poor or non-existent.  Natalia Cornelio, a lawyer with the project, said “Either the government wasn’t thinking at all about how they were going to put these families back together, or they decided they just didn’t care.”

Lawyers from across the country have shown up in Texas to volunteer their services. Since government resources proved unhelpful, they’ve been collecting information about the children from their parents and passing that on to legal organizations that represent undocumented children.  What in the Sam Hell did the government, did ICE, think they were doing when they took these children???

In spite of Trump’s executive order, many parents are not being told where their children are being held, are only allowed to call twice a week for 15-minutes, are not allowed to visit, having been told not to expect to see their children for at least a month, perhaps longer.  The executive order has no teeth, apparently.

Inaccurate date, misspelled names, incorrect birthdates are all contributory factors to the virtual chaos found in a system that doesn’t appear to even be trying very hard to match these 2,300+ children to their parents.  Emily Kephart, a program coördinator at an immigrant-rights group called Kids in Need of Defense (KiND) was recently trying to locate the daughter of a Guatemalan father who had been separated since May.  After many calls, she finally contacted somebody who thought she might know the whereabouts of the girl, but it was unclear, for the name was spelled differently and the birthdate was a month off.

In the past two months, under Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, some 2,300 children have been taken from their parents for no reason other than … Donald Trump wants his wall and knows that if anything will tug at people’s heartstrings, it is the cries of frightened, hurt children.  No protocols have been put in place for keeping track of parents and children concurrently, for keeping parents and children in contact with each other while they are separated, or for eventually reuniting them. Immigration lawyers, public defenders, and advocates along the border have been trying to fill the void.  Most parents are not even given the ‘alien number’ assigned to their children.  One official said it is quite possible that some children may never be reunited with their parents!

So what, you may ask, did Trump’s executive order actually accomplish?  Well, purportedly no new separations will take place and parents will remain with their children in detention centers operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The order does NOT make mention of reuniting the 2,300 children already separated!  The order also directs the Department of Defense to prepare military bases and facilities to accept detained immigrant families.  And the order, in typical Trump-fashion, places the blame for this entire fiasco squarely on the shoulders of Congress for not passing immigration reform that would fund Trump’s wall.

For seventeen loooonnnng months we have put up with the ineptitude, the vengeful policies, the destructiveness and the hatred of the ‘man’ who illegitimately sits in the Oval Office.  It is enough.  Donald Trump is rapidly turning this nation into something it was never meant to be.  We are becoming a nation led by a cruel dictator who would use innocent little children as pawns to get his way.  Congress has enabled him from day #1 and continues to do so, perhaps out of fear, perhaps for personal gain.  Either way, folks, change must happen! Please, please, folks, let’s make that change happen by our vote in November.

The Death of Lady Liberty 🗽

One hundred and thirty-three years ago today, the Statue of Liberty came to our shores.  Lady Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America, arrived in some 200 cartons, in 350 pieces – rather like a puzzle to be put together.  She was reassembled and dedicated the next year and would become known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.

Perhaps we no longer deserve having her grace our harbour.  But first, a bit of history, courtesy of History.com

Intended to commemorate the American Revolution and a century of friendship between the U.S. and France, the statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (who modeled it after his own mother), with assistance from engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later developed the iconic tower in Paris bearing his name. The statue was initially scheduled to be finished by 1876, the 100th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence; however, fundraising efforts, which included auctions, a lottery and boxing matches, took longer than anticipated, both in Europe and the U.S., where the statue’s pedestal was to be financed and constructed. The statue alone cost the French an estimated $250,000 (more than $5.5 million in today’s money).

Finally completed in Paris in the summer of 1884, the statue, a robed female figure with an uplifted arm holding a torch, reached its new home on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor (between New York City and Hudson County, New Jersey) on June 17, 1885. After being reassembled, the 450,000-pound statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886, by President Cleveland, who said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” Standing more than 305 feet from the foundation of its pedestal to the top of its torch, the statue, dubbed “Liberty Enlightening the World” by Bartholdi, was taller than any structure in New York City at the time. The statue was originally copper-colored, but over the years it underwent a natural color-change process called patination that produced its current greenish-blue hue.

In 1892, Ellis Island, located near Bedloe’s Island (which in 1956 was renamed Liberty Island), opened as America’s chief immigration station, and for the next 62 years Lady Liberty, as the statue is nicknamed, stood watch over the more than 12 million immigrants who sailed into New York Harbor. In 1903, a plaque inscribed with a sonnet titled “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus, written 20 years earlier for a pedestal fundraiser, was placed on an interior wall of the pedestal. Lazarus’ now-famous words, which include “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” became symbolic of America’s vision of itself as a land of opportunity for immigrants.

Some 60 years after President Calvin Coolidge designated the statue a national monument in 1924, it underwent a multi-million-dollar restoration (which included a new torch and gold leaf-covered flame) and was rededicated by President Ronald Reagan on July 4, 1986, in a lavish celebration. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the statue was closed; its base, pedestal and observation deck re-opened in 2004, while its crown re-opened to the public on July 4, 2009. (For safety reasons, the torch has been closed to visitors since 1916, after an incident called the Black Tom explosions in which munitions-laden barges and railroad cars on the Jersey City, New Jersey, waterfront were blown up by German agents, causing damage to the nearby statue.)

Today, the Statue of Liberty is one of America’s most famous landmarks. Over the years, it has been the site of political rallies and protests (from suffragettes to anti-war activists), has been featured in numerous movies and countless photographs, and has received millions of visitors from around the globe.

The Statue of Liberty once stood for something, but today when I read those words … “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, I shake my head, for they are a great hypocrisy.  We no longer welcome immigrants, but rather abuse them, call them names, and take their children from them.  We are planning to spend tens of billions of dollars – enough money to feed those tired and poor for many days, weeks, perhaps even months or a year – to build a huge wall, the sole purpose of which will be to keep immigrants out.

Here is how we greet immigrants today …With the exception of the Indigenous People in this nation, we are all descended from immigrants, but as time and generations have passed, we have become an arrogant lot, believing that somehow we are entitled to more, to better than others.  We no longer welcome the “tired and poor”, but instead would choose, in the words of Donald Trump, “only the best and brightest”.  Huddled masses?  Oh no, throw them in jails and detention centers, humiliate them, berate them, beat them and even kill them.No, my fellow Americans, we no longer deserve the Statue of Liberty for we are no longer the ‘land of the free’, but rather the land of the wealthy.  Only the wealthy are welcome here.  If you or I were attempting to flee to the shores of the U.S. today, would we be welcomed and embraced? I think not, but then … I would not choose to come to this country today, either.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers who have dedicated their lives to being awesome dads!

Cruel and Inhumane?

Rosa Maria Hernandez … you are likely to hear that name a lot in the coming days, for she is, at age ten, one of Donald Trump’s “bad hombres”.

Rosa-MariaRosa Maria came to the U.S. when she was three months old and her family settled in Laredo, Texas.  She had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and her parents brought her to the U.S. seeking treatment for her condition. Rosa Maria has the mental capacity of a child half her age.  Last Tuesday, Rosa Maria was in a great deal of pain and was ultimately diagnosed with a diseased gall bladder that would require emergency surgery.  However, the hospital in Laredo was not equipped to do the surgery on such a young special needs child, and she was sent by ambulance to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christie, Texas.

Along the way, the ambulance had to pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint.  I am unclear why there is such a checkpoint between two U.S. cities, but I will table that query for another day.  At the checkpoint, it was determined that 10-year-old Rosa Maria did not have proper immigration papers and would be detained.  Ultimately, officials allowed the ambulance to proceed in light of Rosa’s life-threatening condition, but they ‘escorted’ the ambulance to the hospital. They followed the ambulance, then stood outside the door while doctors performed the surgery. Even during her recovery period, four agents remained on guard outside her door, and visitors, even doctors, were not allowed to close the door.  The door was closed only once, when the family’s attorney, Leticia Gonzales, demanded attorney-client privilege. Can somebody explain to me why it takes four full-grown adults to guard one small, 10-year-old girl? 

Rosa-Maria-2The next day, Wednesday, doctors cleared Rosa Maria for release from the hospital, and authorities immediately took her into federal custody.  Imagine for a moment the terror this little girl must have felt.  Removed from her family, having just undergone a painful surgery, mentally incapable of understanding what was going on, why she was being taken from her family by a group of strangers to … who knew where?  When she stepped out of her room and saw the sea of unfamiliar faces … federal agents and lawyers … she tried to turn around and go back into the hospital room.

Rosa Maria was taken from the hospital to a children’s shelter in San Antonio, which typically holds children who come across the border alone from Central America — not children who’ve been in the United States for several years. Rosa Maria’s grandfather and cousin, both legal residents, begged to be allowed to take Rosa Maria into their homes, but the requests were denied.

Rosa Maria’s mother, Felipa De La Cruz, has not been allowed to visit her daughter, but was allowed to have a brief video chat on Thursday. “I told her she was only there because she was recovering and when she was recovered that she could come with me.” 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the discretion to release Rosa Maria at any time, but have chosen not to do so.  What will happen to Rosa Maria next is anybody’s guess, but I contend that this is cruel and inhumane treatment of a child who has committed no crime and is living in terror, not able to understand what is happening to her.

Has this nation become so insecure, so afraid of everyone and everything that we are now willing to stand by and watch small, special needs children taken from their families for absolutely no reason?  Is this what this nation has become … a nation without a heart, without compassion, an inhumane nation?  For if it is, if we do not stand up and speak for the human rights of young Rosa Maria Hernandez, then I contend that this nation is not going to hell … it is already there.

The United States of Inhumanity

‘They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ – Benjamin Franklin

lady liberty criesHas the above quote lost all meaning in 21st century America?


The headline reads:

TENNESSEE LAWMAKERS SUBMIT BILL THAT WOULD GIVE CIVIL IMMUNITY TO DRIVERS WHO HIT PROTESTERS –

The bill states: “A person driving an automobile who is exercising due care and injures another person who is participating in a protest or demonstration and is blocking traffic in a public right-of-way is immune from civil liability for such injury.”

The bill was introduced to the state senate by Republican Senator Bill Ketron, and in the House by Republican Representative Matthew Hill. Need I say more?


Think Progress tracked hate crimes in the U.S. for the three-month period since Trump’s election.  While it is true that there have always been crimes against certain groups of people, notably Jews, African-Americans, LGBT, Muslims and Hispanics, the increase during this three-month period is eye-opening.  And sadly, predictable.

hate-crimes.png

The report is narrower in focus than that of Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):

“Our standard for a hate incident was very specific, and the bar for inclusion on our list was high. We only tracked occurrences targeted against individuals or communities, which means that we did not cite the numerous instances of vague but unmistakably hateful speech scrawled in public places across the country. We also required accounts to be backed up by a news article, a police report, or an original investigation by ThinkProgress.”

An interactive map provides details by state.

I don’t have to wonder when it became acceptable for people to think they are better, more deserving, than others.  When the leadership of a nation utters hate speech, refers to human beings as “bad hombres” and “illegals”, it sends a signal to those who already feel a sense of entitlement.  This, my friends, is what this nation is becoming.

 

SPLC data


An excerpt from a Facebook post by a friend who teaches at a school in Arizona:

“Today, one my students asked me, “Mr. Bell, What am I to do if I go home and my mom is no longer there because she has been deported? You said he couldn’t deport all of us but I am afraid my parents will be next.” I had no answer for this student. I wanted to say everything is going to be ok, but I can’t say that any longer. I can’t guarantee anything for this student. This fear hasn’t been under just this president but the previous as well. But the talk and action is so real and so scary right now.

Its one thing to see this all play out, hear people say “Build The Wall” or refer to people as ‘illegal’ and not have any personal connection to someone impacted by it. But to experience it with students you love and care so much for makes it so real and frightening for me, as their teacher.”

Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records, and last week the raids began in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia. Under President Obama, such raids also occurred, but targeted only immigrants with felony convictions. As noted last year by FiveThirtyEight, there aren’t 3 million immigrants with criminal records. Unless … one expands the definition of ‘criminal’.  According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security, there are roughly 1.9 million non-citizen immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.

On 25 January, Trump signed an ‘executive order’ to expand the definition of a criminal to include anyone the authorities believe has broken any type of law — regardless of whether that person has been charged with a crime. It is ambiguous and leaves much to individual interpretation. Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), says, “We’re talking about people who are threats to public safety or a threat to the integrity of the immigration system.” However, of the 160 people arrested in Los Angeles alone, 10 had no criminal record and several had only misdemeanors or traffic violations.

I will address this in more depth at a later date, as more firm information becomes available, but for now it is enough to say that for immigrants, even those who are here legally, this is a time of fear.

In Austin, Tex., undocumented women working in a laundromat cowered in the back of the room, petrified after seeing a video and a photograph of apprehensions outside a local grocery store and burger joint.

A day laborer and mechanic in Staten Island told his 17-year-old son where the list of emergency contacts were, including the name of the guardian who would take responsibility for him and his two younger siblings.

In Savannah, Ga., undocumented restaurant workers were asking for rides rather than walking home, afraid they might be stopped and questioned.New York Times, 10 February 2017

While I certainly do not support allowing convicted felons roaming free, whether immigrants or citizens, I find it abhorrent that in the interest of “keeping our country safe”, we are willing to arrest and deport the innocent, to sacrifice our humanity.


The three above stories all highlight the same thing:  that we are becoming a nation of people inured to the needs of our fellow humans.  Not all of us, to be sure, but enough.  Too many.  Too many are willing to live in a nation where one egomaniac can spread hate against human beings.  And let’s face it, folks … we are all members of one race:  the human race.  Those who forget that, who think they are somehow better or more deserving, have traded their humanity for something else … I know not what.