Emil Guillermo: No reunification in a divided America, when freedom takes a holiday

July 3, 2018 2:57 PM

A day before Independence Day, one of the mothers of the 2,000 plus children taken by the U.S. at the U.S. Mexican border will be allowed to meet with her kids in New York. That's how far families have been separated in this whole ideal. Escaping tyrants and violence from parts south of America is hard enough. But try scaling the invisible wall America has already built for people seeking refuge.

Hardship has been made harder, and the logic of truth and justice has been made to seem impossible, not just insurmountable. The mother will only be allowed to speak with her children in New York, but not reunited. 

Thanks to the aborted Trump Zero Tolerance "plan," the kids have been stripped away and placed into orbit in another established hell layer of the American bureaucracy--the foster care system.

In order for the mother to actually be reunited with her children, she's subjected to strict requirements imposed by Homeland Security and the foster care system itself. 

Does the mother have a job? An established address? That's on top of her basic status question: Citizenship? Permanent residence?  

And then there are the irrelevant Trump questions. MS-13? Aspiring terrorist?

After meeting with her children, the mother will be asked to leave them all behind. She goes away empty-handed. More tears. More crying.  

It's what Trump's created. The anti-Norman Rockwell scene in America, the unbeautiful. 

But this is a happy scene. A parent finds and locates her kids. 

A generic scene. But it shows how selective the law is. 

For initially crossing the border, the parents are charged with a misdemeanor.

Meanwhile, White House Son-In-Law Jared Kushner fills out his SF86, the document required for national security clearance, and admits to omitting key information, like meeting with the Russians, a federal felony. 

No one's throwing the book at him. He's part of a privileged family.

Now that's big time tafu. (You can't just coin a word if you don't use it. I didn't create Tafu to be the Susan B. Anthony  or the Sacajawea dollar of armchair neologists). 

In the past, we wouldn't be part of many of these hot topic debates. We'd be on the fringes among the more activist voices.  But no one really thought of Asian Americans as being relevant or part of the conversation.

"Oh, you care about this issue?" 

Of course, we do. We're Americans. We're subject to the law. We don't have to be the ones crossing the border, or having our kids taken to be concerned. But that's the way it's been.  No one thought of Asian Americans much in these matters. 

But that's changing. 

More and more, in our representative form of government, we're seeing Asian American voices speak out. Recently, we've seen Senator Tammy Duckworth  (D-Ill) be more vocal in general. Since the start of the Trump administration, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) has been front and center on the news shows taking principled stands. Mind you, they're not just speaking for their local constituencies, but as Asian Americans, they are speaking for all of us, too.

Emerging among the voices has been Ted Lieu, a congressman representing California's 33rd district, a swath of prime Southern California real estate that includes wealthy liberals from Malibu, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills. And being in California, the most Asian American state by population, a sizable number of his constituents see themselves reflected by him.

So on the hot-button issue of abolishing ICE, there was Lieu to help frame the debate with us in it. 

Trump has made it sound like such a cockamamie idea, as if the Democrats want to abolish all law enforcement at the borders.

To parry all that, now there's an Asian face. 

"ICE is not down there at the border, that's a whole different agency," said Lieu on CNN Monday. "The President is misleading the public, keep in mind he's been bashing immigrants since the day he was inaugurated."

By Trump's tweets, the president seems happy to twist the words of Lieu and other Democratic proponents who want to change ICE. 

But after taking away 2,000 children from parents at the border without a plan for reuniting them, can any fair-minded person defend ICE? 

You'll recall ICE was born out of the Patriot Act and 9/11. Central American refugees did not participate in 9/11, so why is ICE concentrating so heavily on our southern border? 

Lieu was one of the first to call for the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's resignation, and for a new DHS leader to overhaul the culture. Ultimately, it's Congress that changes the laws, but as Lieu pointed out, "If none of that happens, I support the abolition of ICE and replacing it with a system more consistent with American values."

Which brings us to the Fourth of July. Remember the values;, don't burn them on the back yard grill this holiday.

Instead, think of what ICE hath wrought on this new batch of immigrants and their families who simply sought what America has always promised-- until everything went tafu.

It has become a tradition at family holiday gatherings at my house (at least when someone remembers to invoke the tradition). Come to a meal, bring a poem. 

Fortunately, no one has brought Milton's "Paradise Lost," preferring more manageable poetic forms. Haiku is good for such occasions. 

You see, when you mention poetry, most people think of their high school English class.  A love sonnet? Emily Dickinson? Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?  All good Hall of Fame examples.  But poetry is a living contemporary form. Poetry is an expression of our times. And I'm not talking Drake or Kendrick Lamar.

Poetry is also as diverse as America. It's living and breathing in the now. Go to Poets.org and see.

Through that site, I discovered this poem about the Fourth of July. 

It won a Poetry Society of America award this year. And considering all the rhetoric from politicians these days, the nation could probably get by with fewer pols, and a whole lot more poets and poetry.

Here's a burst of concentrated language in lieu of fireworks for a reflective Fourth of July, which happens to be the name of this poem by a poet named Elizabeth Knapp.

Fourth of July
In America, we like our flags fried
and rolled in powdered sugar,
which is why fireworks always remind us             
of bombs, the shock and awe
of a mighty nation. After the parade,
I feel an overwhelming urge
to take a hot shower, Americana
like grease over everything. If you asked
two of us the same question, you'd get
six different answers, depending
on which side of the news you're on.
On the outskirts of town, a band is playing
well into the night. Some of us are sleeping.
Some would kill us in our sleep.

Sometimes, poetry is easier to take than the news.

All of it remains, our call to action.

*     *     *
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.

Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


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