How did it happen? How did a society turn a blind eye? How do people see their neighbors being rounded up and taken away?
I remember being in high school and learning about WWII and having those questions. It was more than my young mind could grasp. Now I know. It happens when people in power make a certain group the scapegoat for the problems in a society. It happens when people in power dehumanize those people. Once people are dehumanized, you can do ANYTHING to them and no one will care or do anything to stop it. It has happened throughout history, both abroad and here in our nation. It happened to the Jews. It happened to the Tutsi. It happened to Native Americans. It happened to Japanese Americans. It’s happened over and over and over again. And now? It is happening to Latin American immigrants searching for the freedom and security of the America that we once offered.
I know that the usual folks will comment about this letter to the editor. They will say they are “illegals,” they need to “all be deported,” they are “taking our jobs,” they are “criminals.” Of course, it is the same xenophobia that we’ve seen thought our history against the Irish, the Japanese, and now Latin Americans. It is the politics of fear. The politics that says it's us versus them. It is cynical and dangerous.
This week, there have been several reports of the policy that the current administration has implemented to separate families that are seeking asylum in the United States. Seeking asylum is a legal process for immigrants who fear returning to their home countries for various reasons, such as violence, persecution, etc. These vulnerable people come here searching for safety for themselves and their families. What they are finding is a policy that is tearing their families apart. Children as young as 1 year old, are being taken from their mothers and put in, as Chief of Staff General John Kelly said, “wherever.” One, 2, 3-year-old babies being taken from their mothers and stored “wherever.” Parents are separated from their children for months without knowing where they are or who they are with. Imagine for one moment, what that must be like. How does a mother feel when they are separated from their child for even three minutes in the mall not knowing where or who they are with? Now imagine that feeling for months on end. To make matters worse, it has been reported that nearly 1,500 children have been lost by Health and Human Services. 1,500 CHILDREN HAVE BEEN LOST BY HHS. It has also been proven that some of the children taken away from their mothers have been released to human traffickers. I can’t help but seethe at this information. As a mother, I’m sickened.
I understand that there are political differences between Americans. I understand that some want us to view these people as “the other” as “animals” because it makes it easier to vilify, fear and ignore them and their plights. I understand that people have sincere disagreements on our immigrations system. But, I can’t, I won’t, I refuse to believe that good people in this nation think this is humane, necessary or moral.
We will be judged by future generations on the decision we are making now. I don’t ever want my grandchildren to wonder “How did it happen?” “How did a society turn a blind eye?” “How did people see families being separated and do nothing?” I hope you will find it in your heart to call your congressperson and demand that they stop this policy. These people are part of our human family and should be treated as such. Anything less makes us the “animals.”
Susana Tupper, Roseville