This week's topic: The Trump administration announced steps to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Your take?
There are two ways to enforce a law. One is to presume innocence and to punish only those proven guilty. This theory values a free society over a secure one, and views letting some guilty people go as the price of protecting the liberty of the innocent.
The other choice is to presume guilt and punish on accusation — perhaps without even allowing proof of innocence. This approach values security above all, on the view that giving up freedom — including jailing the innocent — is the price of reducing crime.
Choice #1 remains America for most of us. Choice #2 is now America for the undocumented. To be a "criminal alien" under the new rules, you need not have been convicted of a crime, nor even been charged; you need merely to have "committed acts" that could be crimes; or, you could merely, "in the judgment of an immigration officer, pose a risk to public safety." Any of these renders you a "priority" for deportation.
So henceforth we will have two parallel Americas. The challenge will be: Where does one America end and the other America begin? In the marriage bed? At the baby's crib? When a police officer knocks, which America will enter? When an officer asks a question, to which America should a person answer? When a woman dials 911, which America will respond? When a refugee asks for asylum, which America will hear her plea?
In our mirror, which America will we see?
John Tweedy, email@example.com
Reality television has hit its stride with The Trump Presidency Show. Episode One was about crowd size at the inauguration. Episode Two featured election fraud. Then there was The Muslim Ban followed by I Love Russia 'Cause They Love Me.
The show's latest episode, Mass Deportations, is about to air. Like the previous episodes, this has nothing to do with creating jobs, keeping us safe or helping our economy. It only has to do with whipping up the base and generating news coverage. The 2020 campaign is underway and Trump wants to say he kept his promises.
Ratings will be through the roof with the stories of families being ripped apart and images of detention centers filled to capacity. There will be footage of terrified children crying and bad hombres in handcuffs. Love it or hate it, we will be tuning in. Those of us on the left will be condemning the pointless cruelty. Those on the right will be applauding upholding the law while returning our country to its rightful (i.e. less recent immigrant) owners.
The problem with the Trump Presidency Show is that real people's lives are being destroyed. Showmanship is being substituted for the hard work of actually governing. Why pass comprehensive immigration reform when you can make your base happy by tearing families apart live on TV? We're like the Romans watching the gladiators being tortured for entertainment. Is that really how we make America great?
Judy Amabile, firstname.lastname@example.org
Why don't we just cut the crap and enact an immigration law that stops the flow of immigrants entering our country illegally, establishes a way to allow those already here to stay, gets rid of illegal immigrants who have committed violent crimes and establish realistic levels for future immigration? Well, we did. In 1986. And look at the mess it created.
What went wrong? Simply put, the law wasn't uniformly enforced. We kept the part that made us feel good; granting citizenship to three million formerly illegal immigrants. But Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2 and Obama all ignored, for political purposes, enforcing the law when it came to stemming the flow of new illegal immigrants. As a result, we once again have millions of new immigrants facing the same 1986 era threat of being arrested. So we now know without a doubt that it doesn't work to first grant a path to citizenship to those here illegally and then secure the border.
Like it or not, the promise of increased enforcement is intended to help stem the flow of new immigrants. So is the promise to secure our border via all means possible including building a wall. This is the hard part of a "comprehensive immigration law." Do the hard part first and it will be easy to devise a plan to give a fair shake to those here now. We might even be able to design a legal immigration program that actually works for future generations.
Chuck Wibby, email@example.com
Positive thinking and magical thinking can be the same thing.
The Poser President promulgated draconian deportation rules that will force undocumented workers to go underground where there are no social services or police protection. They will be even more exploited than they already are exploited and they will live in great fear. We are Americans, not Serbians, but it feels like we are being led by Slobodan Milosevic's mean little brother.
There is a positive side to all this hate, nationalism, and lying spewing from Washington. It has ended our complacency and made us think about how we can move forward together. There are thousands in the streets protesting, reminiscent of the '60s and the civil rights movement and protests against the war. Those demonstrations brought change for the good.
The focus of the disapproval is politicians in general and Congress in particular. We are learning about who represents us at the local, state, and national levels and are confronting them at every opportunity to suggest that they get their heads out of a dark place and do something other than solicit campaign donations.
Congressional offices have shut down their phones and refused mail from their constituents because of the volume and vitriol of the messages. We've seen Cory Gardner stop his office elevator and Mike Coffman slink out the back door of a public meeting.
It's painful to admit that Trump has forced us to pay attention. But then there is magical thinking.
Alan Stark, firstname.lastname@example.org
Director John Kelly's memo to his new Homeland Security Department recommends "empowering state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law." Some note that without congressional approval this privilege does not come with federal funding, so the workload capacity of those local organizations would remain static. Wednesday, the New York Times cited studies documenting that immigrants are typically less likely than natural-born citizens to commit crimes. If that's where our law enforcement starts spending their energy, a short line of reasoning reveals serious potential for unintended consequences.
Last week's "Day Without Immigrants" protests might also highlight some of the longer-term repercussions, particularly if you are involved with the food service, agricultural, or construction industries. To recap, these listed consequences are simply those to regular citizen bystanders — they haven't even touched on those directly affected by the directive.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper noted an important question for local law enforcement agencies: "Does this make their community safer?" An action that will separate families, increase mistrust between officers and immigrants, and potentially remove longstanding residents who are committed to bettering their new homes is unlikely to pass that test. To put a finer point on it, Hickenlooper elaborated, "We certainly don't know what they intend these agents to be doing. If it's looking for violent criminals, we're already doing that. So what specifically do they want us to do beyond that?" Well said, Hick.
Mara Abbott, email@example.com
The Camera's editorial advisory board members are: Mara Abbott, Judy Amabile, Rett Ertl, Michelle Estrella, Fern O'Brien, Cha Cha Spinrad, Alan Stark, John Tweedy, Chuck Wibby and Don Wrege. (Ed Byrne and Steve Fisher are emeritus members.)
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