Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All

A restaurant worker and father of four daughters in Southern California is arrested while dropping his youngest daughter off at school.  A young woman in Mississippi is taken into custody after speaking at a news conference about her fears of being deported; she is released on unspecified terms only after attorneys, including lawyers for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center, intervene.  A popular restaurant owner is apprehended near his home in a small town in Illinois and released on bond only after an outpouring of local support, including letters from local law enforcement officials.  A woman with whom I serve on a committee for a civic organization breaks down in tears at a recent meeting, revealing her “undocumented” status and her fears of being deported after raising her family in the U.S.

This is the face of the new Trump policies dealing with the 11 million undocumented people in the United States, policies that vastly expand the threat of deportation to anyone living in the U.S. without documentation.  No longer do certain priorities, such as felonies or “significant misdemeanors” take precedence; now anyone who entered the country without documents, including a person who lived here for many years, is vulnerable to deportation.  Millions of people who have been living and working in the U.S., contributing to their communities and to the economy, are now at risk simply for who they are:  people “without papers.”

The policy doesn’t simply threaten specific individuals, families, or communities.  It imperils all of us, not simply because it emerged from the racialized rhetoric and scapegoating promulgated by candidate and President Trump – and not simply because it enacts these evils in official government policy.  It imperils us because it places into question our very identities as Americans. Is citizenship only a matter of status and category, i.e. the possession or non-possession of a birth certificate, green card, or certificate of naturalization?  Or does it mean something deeper:  a responsibility to one’s fellow human beings?

In describing the values energizing his quest for social justice, Martin Luther King Jr often referred to what he called the “beloved community,” a vision of society that recognized the interrelatedness of all life and the moral obligations that follow from those interrelations.  As he said, “To the degree that I harm my brother, no matter what he is doing to me, to that extent I am harming myself.”  King understood that people could also harm themselves by failing to act, by engaging in forms of complicity that corrode the conscience and diminish one’s own sense of humanity.

For these and other reasons, many people have stepped up to their responsibilities to the fellow members of their communities – neighbors, employees, students, co-workers, employers – rejecting an invidious documented/undocumented binary to give new meaning to American citizenship.  They are growing the sanctuary movement in their churches, communities, municipalities, and states.  They are attending and supporting “know your rights” workshops, signing up for “rapid response” networks to be present when people are detained, and working at the local and state levels to support policies that resist federal intimidation.  The “know your rights” workshops are particularly important because they affirm that all people in the U.S., no matter whether they are citizens or not, have rights, including the right to remain silent.

These actions point to another motive beyond personal conscience for resisting Trump’s deportation policies.   You may recall the opening lines of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s chilling poem:   “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist.” Niemöller, a Lutheran minister who initially supported and then resisted Hitler, and who was held captive in Nazi concentration camps for seven years, closed his poem with these words, “Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

In choosing the general pronoun “they” over a specific historical reference to Nazis, Muller offered a stark warning transcending time and place:  crushing the rights of individuals in any society ultimately means crushing the rights of all.  When silent complicity prevails, the gates to authoritarianism are opened wide.  Yet the choice to speak on behalf of the other can still be exercised if citizens act in time.  In such choosing we can see not only the movement of the individual conscience.  We can also see how democracy itself – the culture and institutions sustaining human rights – can be kept alive as well.

More articles by:

Andrew Moss is an emeritus professor from the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he taught a course, “War and Peace in Literature,” for 10 years.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail