Wake Up, America

Why you should be paying attention to the border, and to ICE

By Christian Decker

News Editor

During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered all Japanese Americans into internment camps in order to dissuade the fears of paranoid Americans that Japanese citizens would feel sympathetic towards the Japanese Empire and undermine U.S. war efforts. In 1944, the now infamous Korematsu v. U.S. decision was announced by the Supreme Court. It upheld the interment of Japanese citizens as security precaution, a sort of pseudo-variation of the “clear and present danger” test established in Schenck v. U.S. that helped to regulate free speech cases. The decision was appalling, and it is looked down upon as one of the most disgraceful acts committed by the U.S. Many have thought that the days of locking up people in crowded camps were down. They were wrong.

Last summer I wrote an article on this same topic. Last year the most pressing topic was the Trump administrations policy of family separation at the border. Public outcry led the administration to publicly cease the separation. One problem, they didn’t. In fact, it’s gotten worse, much worse. The situation at the border has gotten out of hand, the U.S. has now been building “ concentration camps” to house migrant families who are now being detained at the border. One of these camps, and I’m sure you’ll be surprised, is an old Air Force base used as an interment camp during World War II.

Make no mistake, this isn’t hidden, or covert, no attempt has been made to obscure our view from these conditions. These camps are out in the open, and brazen. You know why? No one is gonna do anything about it. We didn’t care last year, and we don’t care now. And that’s the sad truth. Sure, a few congressmen and congresswomen can go down there and tell us the horrific conditions that these people face, drinking from toilets, inadequate access to hygiene products like toothpaste, and no access to showers or baths, and a putrid stench enough to make people throw up, or have to wear masks. Sure, we have video evidence of men crying for access to showers in cramped, crowded rooms, cages even, and we have seen children being separated from their parents for indefinite amounts of times and gain perhaps lifelong psychological damage. Sure, we’ve seen the Facebook group of ICE officers threatening the life of congresswomen Alexandra Oscasio Cortez and even joking about sexually assaulting her. Sure, we’ve seen the heartbreaking photo of a migrant child and his father lying drowned in a river, trying to reach the U.S. And sure, we’ve watched as American citizens have been detained and held by ICE for being suspected undocumented immigrants, purely because of the color of their skin.

But the truth is that most Americans are fine with this. This is our new reality. This is what “America First” rhetoric has brought out of the recesses of our past. We have othered people so much that we no longer see them as humans, but as invaders. Even our own citizens of color are under attack; this has never been about legal versus illegal immigration, and we know that now. It’s been about finally being able to show your true colors and stop caring about whether you’re going to face consequences anymore, because you won’t, you have an army of people who have perverted speech to spew their hatred and un-American philosophies. It’s frankly sickening.

I don’t often talk about it in my writing, but I’ve been a practicing Catholic for almost my entire life. I’m not perfect, but it doesn’t take a perfect Catholic, or any Christian, for that matter, to see that this is wrong, an abomination in fact. One of the most blatantly un-Christlike acts of this administration. For the Vice-President of the United States, a self-proclaimed Christian, to declare that these camps are humane and completely moral. I will tell you here, Mike Pence is hypocrite. He is not a Christian, he does not care about the teachings of Jesus, he only cares about maintaining the status quo. And we all know the President doesn’t give a crap about God, he only cares about pandering and picking position he knows the religious right will flock to. The so called “family-values” conservatives. Let me ask you, what family values allow you to let children be ripped from their parents, arms, and allow human beings to be caged? These days, I am embarrassed to be counted among the Christians who would allow such bigotry to stand.

Jesus, after reciting the parable of the Good Samaritan, tells the Pharisee, to “go and do likewise”, to help those who are our neighbors, not just those who look like us, or come from our birthplace, or who may not share our same values. We are told to feed the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. “What ever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.” I cannot stand by and watch these commandments be ignored.

Perhaps I was wrong about America, maybe people do care about these issues. Maybe people will still go on to fight these inhumane policies. What’s most important is that we don’t let this be swept under the rug, and to shine a spotlight on these injustices. This article is meaningless unless people take action. Call your representatives, writing letters to every elected official you can think of. Encourage your institutions to denounce this. Don’t let the cries of the powerless be drowned out.

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