So much has been written about separating families. Between fielding inquiries, helping clients, and trying to contextualize this latest act in the ongoing clown show that is this administration, I've also felt the ongoing nauseating mix of despair and disgust so many of you have expressed to me.
But perhaps not for exactly the same reasons.
Sure, I feel despair at not being able to just end family separation. And disgust at the administration that first celebrated it, and now (like clockwork) tries to deny it.
But I despair for another reason: that there is no unified alternative narrative. I am disgusted at the hate movements that successfully created their narrative.
I despair that we are once again pulling out our water pistols to put out yet another fire, instead of taking out their flamethrower. I am disgusted at the complacency of people who legitimize that narrative by trying to find a half-baked common ground with it. And I despair at the enormity of the task at hand, disgusted that this is where we are.
Here are some unvarnished truths:
1. The laws permitting these atrocities have been on the books for years.
2. There is a lot of money in the business of human detention. I mean, incarceration.
3. At least on the immigration side, the haters have a 40 year headstart. (The Federation for American Immigration
Reform is the granddaddy of the modern anti-immigrant movement, founded in 1979)
4. If you think this is bad, wait and see what happens when the laws themselves are rewritten instead of just being interpreted as cruelly as possible. Wait and see what Jeff Sessions & Co. have in store.
I'm matter-of-factly glad that there is attention being paid to the due process free zone known as our southern border. I'm glad there is so much outrage. But it's as useless as a bunch of water pistols if not properly channeled. The thing about fires is they have to be put out. But if we're not working toward a common goal, we'll never take out the flamethrower.
So to put out fires, I recommend donating to RAICES, CLINIC, Al Otro Lado, the American Immigration Council, and the Texas Civil Rights Project. These folks have been on the ground since before #FamiliesBelongTogetherstarted trending. (It's a Trumpy outgrowth of the primary evil: family detention. Sorry - family incarceration.
But all this advocacy can be focused. We can no longer accept the prevailing framing of the issues. No, we must not only fight back, but create an alternative. So I have a few more concrete suggestions.
1. Scream it from the rooftops. Seeking asylum is a human right.
2. Stop criminalizing brown and black bodies, or the exercise of human rights by brown and black bodies.
3. Don't be afraid to call out white nationalism. Learn to recognize it. Calling out bigotry never gets old: don't let them tell you any different.
4. Associate the word "immigrant" with "future citizen," or "aspiring American" whenever possible, and repeatedly.
5. Not "they." Us.
6. Let's start talking about citizenship law, not just immigration law. And let's not conflate immigration law with deportation law.
7. Let's raise the term "prosperous border," not "border security." Let's not conflate border security with border militarization.
8. Let's put some blame where it belongs: the government renders people "undocumented" by actively dedocumenting them. "Document" is a verb.
9. Immigration is the cure for cultural stagnation. America is not a pie that needs dividing. It's a whole kitchen.
10. Our country is defined by its people, not its borders.
Don't just resist.