The campaign against immigrants in America
I tried to go for the most jarringly ironic title possible with this post. Honestly, what could be more un-American than a campaign targeting immigrants in country of immigrants. Immigration has been a demographic force in this country since Europeans decided to come here and wrest if from the Native people. Immigration has always shaped America, and it continues to. The problem is, to be blunt, some people don't like where it's going.
In 2055 white people will not longer hold the demographic majority in this country. In fact, there will be no one "race" that has the majority of the population. And this is due, overwhelmingly, to immigration. This is, to say the least, upsetting some people, and 45 has effectively tapped into that upset.
More than any other issue, 45's campaign and presidency has been a focused attack on immigrants. It was his first act as president to sign an executive order greatly expanding the scenarios under which people could be detained, arrested or deported, as well as banning people from 6 countries. Luckily the infamous travel ban was struck down (except for a June 26, 2017 ruling which implemented part of it until the rest could be heard at trial), but it taught us a lot about what's fueling the administration and its priorities.
Let's look closely at the pillars of the anti-immigration campaign (and I'd call this a targeted campaign, no doubt with these communication pillars written up somewhere in some dark basement office):
1) It constantly connects immigrants with terrorism although the largest group of immigrants to this country are from Mexico (a country that has never been associated with terrorism against the United States) as well as connects Islam with terrorism. It does this by branding all anti-immigrant legislation as anti-terrorist. It has been highly effective in linking terrorism and immigration (and terrorism and Islam) in people's minds.
2) It uses the term "illegal" (instead of undocumented) to associate immigrants with criminal activity, despite the fact that almost 50% of undocumented people came here legally and have become undocumented simply b/c of paperwork issues – which is violation of civil law only (similar to not getting your tabs renewed). If you have ever gotten a speeding ticket, forgotten to renew your drivers license or tabs, rolled through a stop sign, etc. you are at the same level of "criminality" as half of undocumented people. This "illegal" term also ignores the fact that once they get here, the undocumented population is statistically more law-abiding than citizens.
3) It focuses, overwhelmingly, on Muslims and immigrants of color. None of 45's targeted countries have included Canada, even though Canada has a large population of undocumented people here, and has an equal history of terrorism against the United States (i.e., none – much like Somalia, Yemen, and other countries on the 'travel ban' list).
4) Of course, it completely ignores the overwhemingly positive contributions of immigrants. Undocumented people are required to register for the draft. They pay taxes (unless their employer chooses to break the law). They go to college at high rates. And, as stated, they are statistically more law-abiding than U.S. citizens. They perform an important role in the economy, they bring innovation, culture, art and other incredible gifts to this country.
What you can do to help fight anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim terrorism (which is the actual terrorism going on in this country):
1) First, be aware it's happening. People are living in fear. They are afraid to use the buses, b/c bus stops have become a hot-stop for ICE arrests. Arrests of non-criminal undocumented people has gone up 150% since 45 took office, compared to the same time period (January - June) in 2016. There are a lot of good police men and women. However, the ones who have a tendency to abuse positions of power, harass undocumented people, or violate rights are being emboldened to do so. There are stories everywhere of this harassment, which you can dismiss as mere anecdotes, or realize this is happening. And now police have just been told "not to be gentle". This is not a drill. Similar to any other country that targeted a certain population and persecuted them, this is going on and all it takes is "for good people to do nothing" for it to continue.
1) Watch the videos on this page, become aware of what rights people have and procedures to follow in the event of an ICE interaction so you can spread this knowledge to others. Remember, the constitution protects "People" not "U.S. Citizens." All people who reside here have rights.
2) Be prepared to whip out that cell phone and video anything you see going down. When in doubt, tape it. You can always delete it later.
3) Get formal training as a Moral Witness for these types of incidents. Different organizations are providing this training, Google around if it's of interest to you.
4) Don't under-play what's going on online: Watch this video about 45's authoritarian tactics. He doesn't yell to a goose-stepping crowd in a town square, he tweets. In the 2016 election, "campaigning" as well as Russian interference all happened online. Get into the online conversation (I know, I hate it too) and fight the good fight, spread correct information. Report people you think are heading toward hate crimes and don't give up.
5) Get involved with the ACLU. Contribute, or join a People Power chapter near your (small, local ACLU groups that work on policy and advocacy issues for immigrants).
6) Get involved with the immigrant community. In Minnesota, immigrant communities are very segregated. There is little interaction, which allows arrests and harassment to happen without awareness. Forge human relationships by volunteering, going to hosted dinners put on by numerous organizations, etc. There are many immigrant organizations in every state, here are a few in Minnesota:
International Institute of MN: Help refugees get settled and start to navigate life here.
Sign up for Welcoming Week (September 15-24, 2017) and organize or participate in a Welcoming event.
International Education Center: Help with language skills in classes or individually, tutor for citizenship, or even provide admin assistance to this group.
MIRAC: Minnesota Immigration Rights Action Committee: Show up at a protest, follow these folks on Facebook for other actions.
MCC (MN Council of Churches) Refugee Services: Be a "bus mentor" (teach about the bus system), sign up as a "Befriender" to teach about other aspects of life in the U.S., or provide other key one-on-one help as people arrive in MN.
If you want to work behind-the-scenes but still help, the Immigrant Law Center has several volunteer admin jobs open.
None of us asked for this dark chapter of our country's history, but it's here. People's hatred has been stoked and emboldened. It's found its lightening rod in 45 who began his campaign of hate while Obama was still in office. It's not going to just go away. We underestimated it in November 2016. Never again. We need all hands on deck to fight the good fight, especially in protecting the rights of undocumented people, who are bearing the brunt of our deadly mistake in November. We must rigorously protect their rights until we can gain back Congress in 2018.
NOTE: OFFENSIVE CONTENT BELOW. I'm including this image because to me it illustrates the success of 45's anti-immigrant propaganda. I also think we need to come face to face, however unpleasant, with what a significant portion of our population is thinking. Dems (or more correctly caucasian dems) to be taken by surprise by unpleasantness and the depth of racism in this country. We were not united and did not understand the threat in November 2016. I don't want anyone to be taken by surprise again, and to understand the thinking of a lot of people. Not all 45 supporters are like this. But after a year activism, I would say a significant portion of them are. If 36% of people in this country approve of 45 after all he's done, they are somewhere on this spectrum.
Note how this man conflates "illegals" with terrorists, conflates "illegals" with Muslims, and is just waiting for the "OK" to start shooting, which is, actually the next logical step in an authoritarian regime. Throughout his page (but not pictured) he also talks about his hatred of the media (another authoritarian propaganda point by 45 is to discredit the media) his NRA membership as well as his excitement about 45 and Putin getting along well because they are both "alpha males". His hatred obviously goes out to women, gay and transgender people (he neatly illustrates the importance of "instersectionality" for all of us – thanks guy!). This is toxic white male supremacy, and I wish it were the exception not the rule. Get to know it, and strategize accordingly. The harm these people are permitted to commit must be contained.
Additional note: The profile below has been reported to FB, however, I took screen caps in case he commits a hate crime, and have contacted FB numerous other ways encouraging them to involve the authorities b/c he is threatening violence.