America is a country of immigrants.  The Statue of Liberty which welcomes all new arrivals has an inscription that starts with "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore."  For many years that was the spirit with which we welcomed immigrants from other lands.  We established quotas and other restrictions that limited access to certain groups and total numbers allowed to enter.

This is the state that existed when a number of businesses (mostly agricultural) noticed that they could employ migrants from Mexico and pay them less than employing citizens.  In California they were especially good at "stoop" labor.  Other businesses found that they could also find low cost labor among the migrants - food processing, meat packing, and others.  Technically they were here illegally but the government looked the other way to keep businesses happy.

There were issues long before Trump arrived.  Some thought that they were breaking the law and should be sent home.  Others defended them.  Many had been here for years, paid taxes, and raised a family (their children born in the US were automatically US citizens). Why not allow them to become citizens?  The two sides had their talking points and were each trying to have the government agree with them.

One of the very first things Donald Trump did (remember him coming down the escalator?) was to begin his campaign to denigrate illegal aliens.  Mexico didn't send their best - they were drug dealers, rapists, and murderers.  We need a big beautiful wall to keep them out and those that are here need to leave.

All of the "halfway" measures - let the children who were brought here illegally stay without threat of being deported - if a family includes US citizens (children born here) even though they are illegal, let them stay - have fallen on deaf ears.

The wall continues to be a "must have" in the mind of Trump.  There are many issues with the wall, not the least of which is the cost.  There is very little, if any, agreement that the benefits will come close to justifying the cost.  It is being sold through healthy doses of fear about criminals, drugs, and the loss of jobs all of which can be individually contested.

While much of the attention is centered on Mexico we also have the Trump view of Muslims.  In the campaign he often repeated the idea that Muslims should be banned from entering the country and, like the Mexicans, those already here should leave.  In the minds of lawyers and judges asked to rule on the various forms of the "Muslim Ban" saw it as religious discrimination.

In general, Trump's immigration policies have focused on the fear of "others".  It has painted everyone here illegally and all of those trying to come here with the same brush - poor, criminal, and wanting to take what rightfully belongs to our citizens.

Immigration Protest at Sumter Landing

Thank you to the 200 or so people who joined us at  Lake Sumter Landing Town Square last night to stand up for keeping migrant families together and treating refugees humanely.  Given the confusion over Trump’s executive order yesterday, we have decided to postpone Friday and Sunday’s silent protest until we have more clarity over the implications.  We want to know: 

1- How will the more than 2300  children who are already incarcerated be reunited with their families?

2-What will happen to future families prosecuted under this zero-tolerance law? Where will they be housed? How long will the detention last? What allowances will be made to provide for their fair and speedy access to our judicial process? 

So far the answers to these questions do not look encouraging.  We just need a few more days to absorb what is going on, so that when and if we call for another protest, our talking points are clear.  

Our constituents in The Villages represent a community of conscience. We are not afraid to stand up for the just treatment of people in need.  We will communicate our “next steps” soon. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Images from the Silent Protest on the Square

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