When Nothing Changes, We Continue

“Welcome”…said the country with concertina wire to keep “them” out

When I get overwhelmed I write. I am overwhelmed.

The southern border is a sad place. I think about the stories I have been told about when it was a place where families crossed freely for celebrations, parties, dining, and shopping. Not that long ago, I am told. But then the US decided to militarize it. We all know that the military industrial complex is real and it’s deadly and a disgusting example of immoral U.S. imperialism that has been and continues to be touted around the world.

A friend from a border town called to tell me about what she is seeing and experiencing. It is the direct opposite of what many who are not on the border are saying. “Joe is a kind man,” many liberal Democrats say. “He will undo all trump did,” they say. “Give him time,” many others say. But we knew. Those along the border knew. Those who live in immigrant communities knew. Those of us who followed his history while in the Senate knew. So how do so many manage their thoughts and feelings if they believe he is a good man when we all witness him overseeing unkind and inhumane policies? Do we give him a pass? No we do not.

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

This same friend, who works in a shelter in Mexico, told me she is very sick. “It’s stress,” she told me. “There is just so many coming back into Mexico. So many who are sick, scared, and traumatized. We are so overwhelmed. There are so many released from planes and buses that take them from one border town and drop them at this one because Mexico will take them back here. Some are from detention and they are sick. Many of them need hospitalization. It didn’t use to be like this. Even with MPP. The children coming out of US detention are hungry and dehydrated because they aren’t getting the food and water they need. The women are sick and in blood soaked pants because guards in detention aren’t giving them the needed sanitary supplies when they have their periods.” I need to say something and I need for you to understand this. That listening to this person sound so sad and so broken was heart-wrenching because she also happens to be one of the strongest women I know. So to hear this I know incredibly horrible things are happening for her to sound like this.

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

I received a phone call on the same day from another friend who shared what it has been like for her while volunteering in a large detention center that holds over 2,000 “unaccompanied” children. We all know why the majority of these (20,000+) children are unaccompanied. Because the racist Title 42 policy that doesn’t allow people to enter the United States unless they are children says that they carry disease and that they are dirty. We have heard this before. What horrific events in history have occurred because those in charge said the people being targeted and harmed were sick with a contagious disease/insects or dirty? We have seen this before. The parents of these children are terrified of them living in cartel occupied Mexican cities or of being sent back to the violent countries they fled, so the parents make the incredibly difficult decision to send them across, alone. Can you imagine being in a place where you need to make that decision? We are forcing this on them. Family separations are continuing under the Biden presidency.

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

Yesterday a friend who lives and volunteers on the Arizona border, told me that border wall construction resumed again. Another friend, an immigration attorney, told me that the Butterfly Center in TX just posted information about a neighbor/friend who just had her land seized by eminent domain for the wall. This occurred three months after Biden took office.

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

While being on a Zoom today another friend explained to us about the torture that was done to deportees sent back to their African countries. Torture that was carried out by us. On humans who were just asking for safety from the violence in their home countries, which they fled.

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

So back to the kinder, gentler president. Maybe he is. But maybe he’s not. Maybe it’s the system that is so deeply racist and money hungry and not him. Maybe not. Maybe the system is designed in a way that he really has little power. But, can that be true? Trump was in the same presidential position and he sure was able to muster the power to do huge things. We see Biden doing some pretty ambitious things. Many ae comparing him to FDR. He was a bigger than life president. Biden’s response to Covid (for USA) has been big. His infrastructure plan is a grand start. The Supreme Court and gun reform are ambitious too. These are all big things. So then the question must be asked, “If he can do those ambitious things, why does he not do this? Why not immigration reform?

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

I am sure that for most Americans who do not live along the southern border or in an immigrant community, this is abstract and far removed from them. But it’s not far removed from us as a country. If we allow this to be far removed and we do not respond to this, then it shows us and the world that this is exactly who we are as a country. Under our watch, thousands of people are being harmed, right here, because of our … our what? Our inability to right the wrongs? Our inability to muster the desire to care? Our inability to see that we can have a “good guy” as president but that because of whatever forces are so deeply ingrained and in place he can’t do what he needs to do to right this? Is it our inability to think that maybe he and those he surrounded himself with really think this is how it needs to be in order to keep us – what- safe? Personally, I keep coming back to racism and greed for money. We are a country built on racism and it’s always been about following the money. The private contracts, the money being made off of detention and deportation (In the three months since Biden took office he has deported over 150,000 vulnerable people back to the violence they fled). What is that about? How does a good man (and the country he leads) live with this? What mental acrobatics does he and we have to do to make all this alright?

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

Meanwhile Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is sending thousands of desperate, traumatized families, children, pregnant women, and men, who crossed into the US, right back to Mexico where they know no one and they are vulnerable to those who prey on them and hurt them. The officers do this under the orders of Title 42. Title 42 was implemented under trump but Biden refuses to rescind it. And at this same time, ICE is flying thousands of desperate, traumatized families, children, pregnant women, and men back to dangerous countries. All under the orders of Title 42.

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

When I was at a shelter in Juarez I saw that those asking for asylum but were returned to Mexico didn’t have shoelaces. The woman I was with explained why they didn’t have any shoelaces. It was intentional. The CBP officers took them. That meant that when they were returned to Mexico, it was obvious to the cartels who they were. The cartels waited for them. They waited for the women, the children, the men, all of whom were exhausted, scared, and with nothing to call their own sent to a land they didn’t know. That action put a target on their backs. We are still doing this. Under Biden we are still doing this! Women told us about being in the Iceboxes. The CBP cages we’ve seen photos of that are kept at freezing temperatures. The cages where there are many more people in them than they are designed to hold. Where they sleep on the floor with those god awful mylar blankets and are given frozen burritos 3 times a day. Where their medicines are taken from them and their medical and sanitary needs are ignored. For obvious reasons, they dreaded being in those things. We are still doing it. Thousands are sent back to Mexico and aren’t even told where they are going. Those deported are flown back to violent countries or countries destroyed by US imperialism or climate disasters or all of the above. When they get there they think they are in the USA. The guards laugh at them and tell them they are not. We’ve seen photos of mothers breaking down after being told this news. We are still doing it. When trump was in power, we said it was the cruelty that separated him from his predecessors even though they did it too. The cruelty remains. We are still doing it. So how, someone please tell me how, Biden is different? How is he the “good guy”, the “kind man”? And Mayorkas? What about him, a son of an immigrant, yet this is all occurring under his watch. Have the CBP, BP, and ICE agents and their agencies gone rogue? Or is this how they are designed to operate?

“But Joe is a good man,” they say.

Homestead two years ago. We are still here.

In solidarity we continue to work for a total dismantling of the immigration system and rebuild it in a way that is centered around keeping military and corporations out of the countries these people flee, as well as centering a humane welcoming when they arrive at our doorstep.

In peace and solidarity,



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