#DayWithoutImmigrants wasn’t simply about trying to keep illegal immigrants from being deported. Illegal immigration may be a reality for a lot of people in this country, but it’s not the only reality. The rally exposed just how diverse and complicated of an issue immigration is for the US. I am glad to have shown up and share my own story as a naturalized Japanese American, and shocked by how many Latin Americans, African Americans and European Americans had similar stories about their challenges of becoming a citizen.
Showing up was about acknowledging just how broken the system really is, and how unfair it is to simply blame illegals for problems that stem from the agency responsible for immigration, and the convoluted, if not often misleading, practices and policies we have to deal with.
Yes, there are illegals who came here through illicit means, and they do fear deportation and being separated from their families. They have a voice in this protest. But I want to be clear that they aren’t the only voices, and they aren’t the main voices. If ICE showed up at yesterday’s rally, most of us wouldn’t have cared, though I’m sure many would have plenty of things to say to the front lines of immigration enforcement.
The system is failing everyone.
It’s failing American citizens by throwing our tax dollars at misguided and ineffective programs. It fails the economy by actually promoting illegal immigration by turning a blind eye to the employers who exploit desperate people who have no legal status. It fails those same undocumented workers by setting them up for exploitation, rather than getting them on the right path. It fails the people who actually try to become legal citizens or legal workers/visitors, by failing to process applications in a timely manner. Nobody wins. Except for those who profiteer from this broken system.
What impressed me the most about the rally? Donald Trump wasn’t the target of animosity by the crowd. I heard his name mentioned maybe twice, if that. There is an acknowledgment that the problem of immigration is larger than one man, even if that man is making it a political action item. Families were being torn apart long before the 2016 election. The rally’s primary focus, again, without any official organization, was to humanize the problem. It’s not just about a label like “illegal” or “undocumented”, it’s about living breathing people, human beings. Illegal, legal, guests, residents, citizens. For the people who showed up, it wasn’t about political views, it was about living life. It’s about trying to comply with a government that tells you to follow rules, only to punish you for following those very rules. It’s about making sure your family members can make it home safe every day. It’s really about the fight to make it easier to do the right thing.
When Lawmakers Became Law Breakers
I am against illegal immigration. The law is the law. The value of being a citizen is diminished if everyone else can enjoy the same privileges without making the same commitments. And while that stance has made many others support the current policies and administration, that fundamental belief drives me to join the fight for REAL immigration reform, not callous scapegoating of targeted victims. I believe that those who want to work hard to become fellow citizens should deserve a clear, easy-to-comprehend path that’s designed to bring in the best in character the world has to offer, while keeping the illicit and exploitation out. I want to see American employers held accountable for exploiting an undocumented workforce that they shouldn’t even be using in the first place. I want to see undocumented convicted criminals kicked out f the country instead of filling prisons. And I want to see more humane treatment of detained immigrants and refugees. I want the system to live up to what the Statue of Liberty symbolizes, for citizens, and foreigners.
I take the Pledge of Allegiance very seriously. Many naturalized citizens do.