Why Would You Hurt Me This Way?

We’re getting the bad ones out. Bad people out of this country—people that shouldn’t be whether its drugs, murder…. Donald Trump speaking to followers.


I was a new Special Agent in the U.S. Secret Service—only a couple of weeks on the job. My boss assigned me my first case to investigate: A deceased man’s Railroad Retirement checks were cashed for several months after his death.

I went to the retirement home where his widow lived. She was old and frail, kind and cooperative. She acknowledged cashing his checks after he died. She thought it was okay. She said to me, “I can pay back a dollar a month.” I said, “That will not be necessary.” If I had to take a dollar a month from this lady, I didn’t want to be a Secret Service agent. I closed the case. No one objected.

I watched a news report recently and felt saddened by the reports of good people being swept up under Trump’s executive order on immigration. He said he wasn’t after people with minor criminal records or who made administrative mistakes. His order said otherwise.

One husband and father, in the United States for 16 years, was arrested and quickly deported to El Salvador for missing a meeting. His wife wept as she asked, “Why would you hurt me like this? Why would you hurt my kids this way?”

Another man was pulled over by ICE agents as he drove his children to school. He was arrested in front of his children while his 13-year-old daughter video-taped his arrest. His serious crime? A DWI 10 years prior.

A woman spoke publically about her fear of deportation. Shortly afterward, she was pulled over, detained and awaits deportation for overstaying her visa. She has lived in the United States for 16 years.

And the stories go on and on across the country. Millions of people live in fear.

ICE agents had discretion in these cases. They could leave these people alone. It’s easy to build up one’s statistics by prioritizing such people. People inflate numbers all the time to make themselves look better or for political use. I haven’t read of the arrests or deportations of any murderers or rapists. I wonder how ICE agents feel about these arrests—often done in cruel ways? If I was a young ICE agent, I would ask, “Is this what I have to do to be an ICE agent?”

We will remember Donald Trump as a cruel man without compassion.

I believe people allowed to live and work freely here for as long as these people were should be allowed to remain here forever. We should not break up families.

One way we resist Trumpism is to refuse to behave as he does: We tell the truth, have a higher purpose, treat others with respect, act with compassion and always seek to grow in our awareness of what is happening right in front of us.

The “bad ones” are not those being snatched off the streets.

Is This Who We Want to Be?

I simply am a mother who fights for her children, who fights to give them the best. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos


NY Times, February 8, 2017:

Ms. [Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos] Rayos was 14 when she left Acambaro, a city in an impoverished corner of the Mexican state of Guanajuato, and sneaked across the border into Nogales, Ariz., a three-hour drive from Phoenix. She married — her husband is also undocumented, and thus did not want his name published —and gave birth to a boy and a girl, who are now in their teens [American citizens].

Ms. Rayos was working at Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, when Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies swooped in on Dec. 16, 2008, arresting her and several other employees on charges of suspicion of identity theft and using forged documents to obtain employment.

She spent three months in a county jail, followed by three months in immigration detention, she told a reporter. In 2013, an immigration court ordered that she be sent back to Mexico, but her case had been on hold since the federal authorities — under the Obama administration — decided not to act on the deportation order.

Her son, Angel, still remembers the evening of her arrest — the knock on the door, the flashlight on the darkened living room, the sight of handcuffs on his mother’s wrists.

“I was in second grade,” he said. “I never forgot that night, and I’ve lived in fear of losing my mother every night since then.”

Ms. Rayos had a routine annual check-in with immigration officers in Phoenix scheduled for last Wednesday (2/8/17). She feared going. She knew what might happen under President Trump’s recent executive order—said to target criminals. She could skip the meeting or go into hiding. But she didn’t. She was arrested after more than 20 years in America, after she spent six months in jail, after she lived in uncertainty for five years before she was ordered deported and then four more years until she was deported to Mexico. I imagine she lived a fear and anxiety filled life.

To some Americans, Ms. Rayos threatens the safety of America—she is a criminal—maybe a terrorist. Really? A teenager when she came to America, she made her way. She faked a Social Security number so she could work. She married and had two children. She is not a criminal or terrorist.

I believe a system that leaves a humble woman–who sought only freedom and a better life–living in uncertainty as long as it left Ms. Rayos is fundamentally cruel and unfair—even violent criminals have a statue-of-limitations.

We should be better than this.

Jewish theologian Martin Buber wrote of I-It and I-Thou relationships. I-It relationships relate to Ms. Rayos as an object, whose only value is extrinsic—she serves our food, cleans our homes, landscapes our yards or raises our children. In an I-It relationship we value Ms. Rayos only insofar as she serves our purposes. To many Americans, immigrants are not human beings but “things” they use and, since Trump, fear.

In I-Thou relationships, we see our shared humanity in others and are conscious of our often wrong assumptions about others. We realize that “crossers” are human beings just like us and “but for the grace of God, there goes I.” Almost all immigrants who come to America from Mexico and South America come from extreme poverty and helplessness and are in search of a better life for themselves and their children. Often their lives are in danger in their home countries. I am in awe of their courage.

Our local, state and national leaders have failed to formulate an immigration policy and system: A tough-love, compassion based approach to immigration that protects our borders, delivers swift justice, uses modern technology to keep track of people who come into and go out of the United States with rules and procedures that are true to America’s heritage as an immigrant nation. A system where accountability is balanced with compassion and fundamental human respect and decency.

I used to write that we live in a dark time. Now I say that we live in a time of madness. We must not become desensitized to those who use political power to harm the spirits of others. We must resist fiercely.

As we do, we must not become what appalls us and lose our humanity: In the face of this we pray. In the face of this we love. In the face of this we forgive. Because the vast majority of water protectors know this is the greatest battle of all: to keep our hearts intact.

 (Lyla June Johnston, young Native leader to Timothy Egan (NY Times, Dec. 2, 2016) at the North Dakota prairie camp where the Standing Rock Sioux are making a stand to keep an oil pipeline away from water that is a source of life for them.}