The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Immigrant Harassment Escalates in Southeast Pennsylvania, Elsewhere

At a recent meeting of the oldest denominational association in America, it was reported that many immigrant groups are currently being harassed and are living in terror given the anti-immigrant sentiments coming from our nation's "leaders." For example, a Burmese Christian congregation in Philadelphia is being attacked going to and coming home from church (with the usual ignorant "go back to your own country" rhetoric and angry threats). This has escalated significantly since the election of Donald Trump and his cabinet. Chinese Christians are so nervous, given the hateful climate, they are afraid to come out of their houses. One third of the population of Norristown, Pennsylvania, is Latino and they are living in a state of terror. The ICE teams are dressing virtually identically to the local police and there are daily rumors of raids given the confusion. ICE teams now respect no sanctuary situations around churches or schools. Hmong, Liberian, and Haitian refugees are all living in Philadelphia in large numbers and they are feeling the hate. Following the 2009 earthquake in Haiti, Haitian refugees were given a limited time in the US. Six months from now they must return to Haiti, whether or not Haiti is ready for them.

An immigration lawyer told the group meeting that until you are a citizen of the US, whether here legally or not, you may be removed from the US for whatever reason the government dredges up. Immigrants rounded up in raids on the excuse of "being close to the raid site" are treated as guilty by association and deportation follows.

Let's explore the refugee situation a little here. Most people moving from one country to another have been displaced by war, whether an armed conflict or economic warfare. They do not choose to leave their home country and they'd rather not. They fear for their families and so they go, often having little more than fifteen minutes to pack and clear out ahead of violence. Many of these are the people currently being harassed on the streets, in restaurants, in grocery stores, on mass transit, you name it. It's terrifying. It's a continuation of the violence they fled in the place where they'd hoped to be free of violence. To engage in such anti-immigrant behavior is as unChristian as you can possibly be. Do a little research for yourself and see.

By the way, when the various immigrant groups (I am a mix of multiple nationalities from England, Ireland, and Europe) that comprise my family came to the US, they booked passage with brokers (as is still done today) and faced a couple of very simple tests of physical health and mental acuity (given in the immigrants' native tongues). You see, back in the day the doors were flung open as growing business and manufacturing centers desperately needed much help to compete. My ancestors faced the same vile rhetoric from the most ignorant and backward Americans when they arrived, but managed to get by. I pray the current refugees and immigrants will be able to do the same, however vile and pervasive the hatred is today. Today, however, the immigrants are limited in numbers accepted as our need in manufacturing and business is not so great. The hoops to jump through are far greater and more onerous. The vetting process that Mr. T finds too lenient takes anywhere from two to eight years before you can enter the country. If you are not a skilled worker, you have no legal recourse for entering the country.

At this point Egyptian Coptic Christians and Iraqi Christians are being deported back to their home countries, where they are being hunted and killed in increasing numbers (see: as an example).

What can we do? Those of us who are the least directly impacted can speak up, as I'm doing here. Cry out to your politicians. Take a stand in the streets. Write letters to editors. Talk to friends. Get the word out. Refuse to stand by doing nothing as examples of hatred escalate.

And for those who say, "You're in American now. Speak English!" let me tell you a story. One of my brothers-in-law married a woman from Greenland. He brought her home to the Midwest. She could both understand and speak English. She rarely did, however. Why? Because when she spoke it identified her as a foreigner and she was loath to be seen as such and mistreated. She was here legally, but life was very difficult. Her children are perfectly acculturated. Keep that in mind the next time you want to pass judgment and harass someone who is different from yourself.

Also, on the border between the US and Mexico, in the desert areas, churches are placing bottled water along routes immigrants enter the country and have been dying of thirst. Militia groups "defending the US" are emptying and slashing those water bottles, ensuring needless deaths. This anti-immigrant stance that has escalated in emotional and physical violence since 11/9/16 is going to get a lot of people killed and may very well gut the soul of this great nation.

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