“What would your child’s school do if ICE agents showed up at the door? Or stopped your kid when he got off the bus? Or tried to question your child during practice?
I’ve spent some time this week gathering information and talking to local school administrators about how they would handle an event such as this. You see, my child, a fully documented American citizen, has brown skin, long black hair, and classic facial features of the Maya people. She even speaks a little Spanish. These traits could be enough for an eager ICE or CBP official to want to ask her to verify her citizenship status. Reports of ICE agents questioning people on the street in Pittsburgh last month and raids in Morgantown and Barboursville last week show that it is conceivable that we may come in contact with agents in our town. Your town. Any town.
Additionally, the president’s recent expansion of deportation regulations, “expedited removal,” allows CBP and ICE officials to decide if a person has proven that they have lived in the country for at least two years. If the agent is not satisfied with their proof, the person in question can be deported WITHOUT due process – without seeing a judge, or talking with a lawyer. An isolated agent can decide if a person’s “proof” is adequate. And if he says it is not, the person has no opportunity to “prove” himself to a higher up. I know, the chances of ICE showing up at my daughter’s school is probably slim. But, there have been so many unlikely, and unfair, situations occurring under the umbrella of “border protection” that we have to be prepared. We have to be sure that anyone supervising our Latinx or Latinx-appearing children knows how to keep our kids safe by knowing immigrant’s rights, proper procedures for ICE and CBP agents to follow, and where to turn for help if a situation should occur. Until then, my child won’t be attending outdoor sporting events, practices, or field trips without me. I don’t even feel good about her riding the school bus. It’s not fair for her world to shrink out of my fear, but until we can see more understanding and support for these possibilities it is how I have to parent.”
We live in a scary time. Families of all backgrounds have to live in fear of the racism and extremism that has been seeping into the foundation of our institutions and the minds of our neighbors. It is vital that we take the time to build healthy relationships in our communities so that we can support one another. Talk to your neighbors, get to know them. Hold community events and potlucks. Reach out, let people know you’re ready to help in all sorts of disasters. Love one another. Build relationships with your neighbors. That’s what it’s going to take to get us through this, and so much more.
If you’d like to donate to an organization working directly with immigrant communities affected by these recent raids, the Morgantown Area Youth Services Project is a great local nonprofit doing that work.
Have you or someone you know been affected by the actions of ICE, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement? Are there other major issues in your community that you’re passionate about? Do you have a story that needs to be heard? We’re here to listen. Email our team firstname.lastname@example.org.
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