We are living in a moment in time that feels surreal. Many of us who have lived with the trauma our immigrant parents and families faced and who have toiled for years to fight against the deportation, incarceration and discrimination, feel some level of fleeting vindication considering the recent uptick in activism. The difference today is that I feel that many are now finally starting to listen at a deeper level.
For the first time in memory, I feel that there is common concern about the totality of the immigration-enforcement apparatus. Several demonstrations have been held demanding not only the immediate closure of concentration camps at the southern border, but also a stop to all financing (protests outside banks) and technological assistance (protest outside Amazon) provided to the camps and to ICE officials conducting mass raids.
As activists proclaimed at a July 11 event, “what we have before us is a crisis of humanity.” This is true on so many levels. The existential threat of climate crisis, the continued erosion of living standards and the widening gap between rich and poor is depriving many of the right to a dignified existence. The same economic apparatus that deprives workers in the United States also in turn pushes many migrants out of their places of origin.
Economic policy coupled with hemispheric U.S. geo-politics has left an indelible legacy on the immigration landscape. It’s important not to lose sight of how push-pull factors have influenced conditions. Likewise, a more contemporary issue is interwoven with climate change. Many in recent years have also migrated because of shifts in climate conditions that makes sustaining life in these communities difficult. When crops no longer grow, people must make the difficult decision to leave their lands.
In the process of making the journey north, many migrants also must endure hunger, insecurity and continued threats of violence. For many women, there is also the threat of physical and sexual violence. Family separation and detention in concentration camps further traumatizes people who have undergone so much hardship.
Conditions in these facilities are so dire that even centrist politicians are exposing the terrible state of these camps. To be honest, many of us are weary of this newly formed visual dichotomy that positions Democrats as “champions” for immigrants.
The “vote blue, no matter who” tactic is disconcerting, knowing that the infrastructure for criminalizing migrants was codified as law by the Clinton administration in 1996. Likewise, the Obama administration refused to dismantle the ICE-raid apparatus that is now being abused by President 45. Unfortunately, both parties had a hand in monetizing immigrant suffering. Our community’s salvation shouldn’t rely entirely on electoral politics. Community members deserve better.
Oscar Rosales is a Master of Social Work student at the University of Washington.
Read the full July 24 - 30 issue.
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