Being an immigrant is never easy and fears within that community have never been higher
The kids arrived home from school last night all abuzz about seeing their friends. They actually enjoy school most days. However, Inside their backpacks was a note that I found rather chilling. They attend a very diverse, multi-cultural city school. If the administration felt it necessary to send home the following letter, they are obviously responding to a real fear among the parents of our children’s classmates. Here’s the text of the letter:
What to Do Next to Protect Immigrant Communities
As America faces challenges in our long fight to uphold our founding values of liberty and justice for all, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) stands firmly with the immigrant communities who make our country strong. Though the president has the discretion to unilaterally alter some immigration policies, he cannot change the law itself. We will advocate strongly with the new Congress to retail protections for all immigrants.
In the meantime, here are four important things to know right now:
- We do not recommend filing an initial application for DACA at this time. If you are considering filing a DACA renewal, first speak with qualified legal counsel, like NIJC, about the potential risks.
- If you have a DACA, do not apply for advance parole. If you already have approved advance parole, return to the United States before January 20, 2017.
- Make an appointment for a legal consultation with a qualified legal service provider like NIJC as soon as possible to see if you are eligible for a permanent form of relief.
- If you have been a permanent resident for three or more years, consult with a legal service provider about preparing to apply for U. S. citizenship. If you have ever had an encounter with the police, do not apply unless you have consulted with an attorney.
[contact information for the NIJC is provided at the end]
A few things for those outside the immigrant community
First off, few of you are actually outside the immigrant community. Unless you are part of an indigenous North American tribal people, you’re part of the immigrant community so don’t go getting all huffy about immigrants. Someone in your family has been exactly where immigrants today are and they likely were just as scared. Being an immigrant in a new place, even if that place holds tremendous promise, is still frightening.
Beyond that, however, there are some other things we should all consider:
- Not all Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, or Indian people you meet are immigrants. Millions are natural born citizens exactly the same as you. Don’t insult them and their entire race by assuming that they all are immigrants.
- The vast majority of immigrants currently in the United States are here legally, have been through the appropriate (and sometimes inappropriate) background checks, and are probably more conscientious about upholding the law than most of their neighbors.
- Many of the immigrants currently in the United States were asked to come here by American-owned companies who needed their talents, especially in high-tech industries. Holders of these special visas, which also come with special limitations on travel, are critical to the U.S. economy. Should they all be required to leave, as some have suggested, it would immediately plunge the U.S. into recession.
- Immigrants do not “take” anyone’s jobs. Rather, they fill a huge gap in work sectors that Americans are either not sufficiently skilled or not sufficiently humble enough to take. There always have been more than enough jobs for those willing to take them.
Where This Gets Personal
We live in a very multicultural neighborhood. Many are immigrants, including the darling little five-year-old who catches the bus with the kids. Her parents only recently moved to Indianapolis from New York because opportunities here were better. Yet, the day after the election, her mother confided to me that they’ve been warned to stay packed and ready in the event they might have to leave again. They are afraid to even unpack all the children’s clothes.
There are immigrants all around us. Indianapolis has been a very open and welcoming city despite the efforts of many in our statehouse to turn them all away. We rely on them for the services they provide and they equally rely on us to provide them with a safe and accepting community in which to raise their families.
Sure, there are a few bad apples. Ya’ know what, there would still be a criminal element without them. Every society on the planet is contaminated with those who would rather exist outside the law, so blaming immigrants is rather ridiculous and insincere.
Just as we have been quick to support women and our LGBTQ friends, we need to do the same for immigrants in our country. They’re scared. They have no idea what to expect from January 20 onward. Even worse, there are more than a few people out there who are willing to take advantage of that fear. Our immigrant population needs to know that we have their backs.
That the atmosphere has reached a point where letters such as this one need to come home is truly sad. This is our fault. We need to fix it. Please, support your local immigrant community however you can.