Not Everything That Looks New and Chaotic Really Is
Wow, what a time! Got time for an election, too? We should expect it to get more chaotic. I hate to consider that there might be a last-minute surprise—ok, another last minute surprise—put before us/US. With the Supreme Court nomination, sexual abuse/assault and the continuing abuse of both immigrant children and the environment—our water, air, food—there’s a lot of very emotional issues to distract us from joyful living. Then, of course, there’s the president and the distractions by and about him.
It would be nice to try to ignore it—and I’m sure there are those who want us to. They help themselves when we don’t watch. After escaping for a while, however, we return, right? Better to pay attention and do what we can, while we can I think, and have some say in what comes next. Don’t forget to vote.
Today sexual abuse and immigration are areas where we can see the trauma and effects the justice system have on people when laws are not applied impartially. It’s tough to watch when our justice system lacks that human element that reflects a concern for people. Put another way, that’s when the laws don’t fulfill one of the essential elements of the US Constitution—protecting citizens from governments, ours included. I’ve been looking for ways to balance some of the extremes we hear about current issues.
When the rhetoric begins to gets too extreme I remind myself to look at dashboard.securingdemocracy.org. They monitor Russian-influenced social media that broadcast extreme and unyielding positions on both sides of the day’s hottest political issues. If it’s not contentious enough, they make it up. They focus on whatever people are paying attention to and amplify the extremes. It comes at us constantly.
Another way of balancing I want people to know about is the Living Room Conversations that the Bolder Together: New Thought in Action coalition are holding in the San Diego area. There’s an article about it in this issue, so I won’t elaborate, but it’s about bringing together people with all kinds of viewpoints and finding places to agree.
As previously discussed here, it’s important to remember we are all immigrants. We just came in different waves, but we came here from somewhere else because human life did not begin on this hemisphere. Even “Native Americans” came from somewhere else.
One complaint we hear is that current immigrants should should come here legally just like our forefathers and mothers did. That made me think about the immigrants in my family. How did they get here?
The Mormon/LDS side came because of religious persecution after they changed religions. They wanted to express their faith in a community they could join and moved to Salt Lake. Religious intolerance brought many of our earliest immigrants here. My dad’s side were all Catholic Irish and mostly came after bad potato harvests, at different times. They wanted jobs.
Both sides were poor, arrived without jobs waiting for them and were members of unpopular religions. They certainly didn’t have any paperwork that said it was okay for them to come. None filled out applications. They got on a ship, arrived, gave their name and sometimes even changed it. When people say new immigrants should come here legally the same as our forefathers and mothers did, well, aren’t they? There just using different “ports” of entry.
The laws have changed to make what normally has happened a crime. It used to be a simple misdemeanor to just walk in.
Not welcoming the newest wave of arriving immigrants is how we usually do it, isn’t it? Has that changed? I know I shouldn’t brag, but I have several close Italian friends, and I never remind them that I was here first. Truth is, the Irish wave came about 50–70 years before the Italian wave. As kids, haven’t we all heard and used the expression “I was here first” about different things? So what? It’s something kids do.
Today we have a “great, never better” growing economy that most people know reflects how well those at the top are doing—and that wages have been stagnant for years. The difference between the economic top and bottom has never been greater. Yet for many people, for immigrants, the bottom here is better than what they often have in their country.
The same type low-paying hard labor jobs that were available to my family’s immigrants when they first arrived are what is available now, and for many, that’s good. What seems to be missing is knowing that we need new immigrants, that need has actually increased. Estimates are that over 50% of our food is produced by foreign workers, and most are undocumented. Whether they plan to stay or just come for work for a while, we need more people to work in the fields and factories canning and processing our food. Many others care for our sick and landscapes, and clean our offices and cities. If we let them.
Almost every day we hear that people are being deported that have often been here for decades. Ironically the Trump Administration is restricting workers that farmers and fishermen all over the country need—and many supported Trump. Our needs match—but conflict with the desire for strict law enforcement, and lack of a better plan.
Not all immigrants are like the above, of course, but the majority are poor, seeking work that not many of us want to do—yet these are the ones the US arrests, separates from their kids and either deports or puts in detention camps. Who are the criminals?
What’s noteworthy is that the first generation of immigrants almost always commit fewer crimes than the second generation. The crime rate for second generation is about the same as the rest of the US.
Why we do this needs to be addressed—ideally, next issue. There are, of course, other types of immigrants, and that’s next time too.
What needs attention is why we are detaining people. We hear that the president is separating kids from their families to appeal to his base. But he could just as easily appeal to another base by making it easy for new immigrants to work for that base. Maybe they are.
Maybe for this Administration, rather than votes, the biggest motivator is money. Especially when they can count on the votes no matter what they do. Detention is a multi-billion-dollar industry. How long before we find out who is profiting? And what’s the difference between that and human trafficking, if what’s being bought and sold is human beings?
Isn’t it time to add some humanity to our laws and politics?