An Open Letter to United States Immigration Officials
To agents, prosecutors and judges:
I am concerned for you, brothers and sisters, for you are on the wrong side of history.
Under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, captured runaway slaves were to be returned to their masters. Officials and citizens of free states were required to assist. Increased numbers of slave catchers roamed the North, armed with federal law backed by the Supreme Court’s decision that slaves had no standing.
We look back at all the people involved in returning slaves with repugnance. The legal system – all the way up to the Supreme Court – was unjust, inhumane, ignorant and utterly racist.
Sisters and brothers, this is how society will view you and your actions within your lifetime. The day will come when you are ashamed to admit you were part of a system deporting and incarcerating undocumented people.
Immigration spokesmen have said that they are just enforcing the law. It is stunning that a federal official would use the Nuremberg defense to justify government actions. The world rejected Nazi’s explanations that they carried out war crimes because they were following orders. This will not shield you from societies’ disdain.
It has been said that the universe bends toward justice. In the United States, due in large part to the broad-mindedness of young people, society is quickly moving toward justice.
It was only 50 years ago that police across the country expended significant resources working to entrap and jail gay men. That practice was forced to stop and now we have gay rights codified into law and gay marriages.
It was heartening that after the lives and concerns of transgender people were widely presented in the media for only a few years that several trans people recently won elected office. This represents an incredibly swift transformation of public awareness and acceptance.
Can you not sense that process at work in immigration? Repeated polls have shown a strong majority of citizens favor providing a path to citizenship for undocumented people.
There is widespread outrage at the demonizing and brutal treatment of asylum seekers at our southern border. The drowning of Oscar Martinez and his infant daughter Angie hangs around the neck of those of us who can see and drives us in unyielding efforts to reform the entire immigration system.
Stop it. Stop deporting and incarcerating noncriminals. Stop destroying families and traumatizing children. You would be better off if you quit your jobs or get a transfer to other Homeland Security tasks.
The judgement of history is rolling toward you.
Board member of ISAIAH
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