January 20, 2019 Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience
From Jen Hofmann: Americans of Conscience Checklist
Week of January 20, 2019
A note on today’s late checklist:
Normally the AoC Checklist is written by Friday, edited on Saturday, and published Sunday morning at 10am Eastern. We had a fantastic edition all ready to go, but everything changed after the president’s announcement on Saturday afternoon.
In order to offer you most useful recommended actions, several people on our team stepped up this morning to review responses from the immigration-rights groups we amplify. I wanted to make sure we were working in solidarity with them. I apologize for the delay, however. From that research comes the following explainer, and a note about the action we’re recommending about ending the government shutdown.
Resolving the shutdown with justice for all
TL;DR (short summary): The president’s shutdown pits us against each other. Instead, let’s unite with respect to end it.
If you’re a passport-holding citizen, immigration might not ever be something you think about. Before I started learning about it myself, I mistakenly believed it was a binary issue—legal or not legal. As in, either you’re here with documentation or you face the consequences. I’m not proud of this, but in the immortal words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
What I know today is that our nation has its own Congress-approved, president-signed laws that make America a place of refuge to people fleeing desperate conditions around the world. At its best, our nation values compassion and welcome. We appreciate and value the myriad contributions of diverse people. With respectful exception to Native people and people who arrived on slave ships, we are a nation of immigrants who came here by choice or necessity. Somewhere in your family tree are people who faced the same fears and uncertainty as those who arrive at our southern border.
Our laws enshrine our commitment to offering refuge. Rather than binary, immigration is a continuum. Asylum-seeking is legal. Seeking refuge is legal. Seeking citizenship—for yourself, your spouse, your children—is legal. But when the current president arbitrarily closes the doors of “legal ports of entry”, is it suddenly illegal to seek those things? If a parched, starving person crosses elsewhere in desperation, are they exempt from these rights? As citizens, we must grapple with these moral questions even if we never encounter them firsthand.
The reality today is that some government departments are acting in opposition to both the letter and spirit of our nation’s own laws. Last week, ICE arrested a woman during her marriage-green-card hearing. Despite her physician’s grave concern about her high-risk pregnancy, ICE refused to release her. ICE refused her access to essential medication, even though she reported dizziness due to hypertension. Even if you are not directly impacted by ICE raids, this knowledge should present a moral concern. Is the life of a person without citizenship less valuable?
As people of conscience, we can sense the injustice of how ICE treated this woman. Fortunately, she was released over the weekend and is faring better. But it’s the overarching trend that makes her story the norm, rather than the exception.
Here’s the crux of the issue: At the moment, people with vulnerable immigration status are bearing the burden of advocating for their rights—and at great personal risk. ICE is actively targeting and arresting leaders of these movements to intimidate them. These communities need us—all of us—to join them and support their calls for decency and justice.
After Saturday’s announcement, it’s clear this administration wants to pit us against each other. Will we have a wall or a functioning government? Will we support government employees or immigrants? He frames it in a way that implies that one of these two groups is disposable, but doesn’t care which. Refuse to comply with this framing. We can reopen the government and restore services while honoring our moral and legal obligation to our immigrant neighbors. Let us dismiss his offer, and act instead from a deep conviction that respect is an infinite, non-depletable resource available to all.
All of this shared, I wanted to ensure we included an action to end this unjust shutdown that includes the immigration community’s priorities—and explain why. Let us speak up for respect for all residents of our nation and lift those words to our Congressional representatives—red and blue—this week.