Of all the issues that are being roiled politically in this most contentious of times in all my 70 years, I believe that Immigration Detention and Deportation initiatives must be given the utmost attention and consideration. The President has stated that these are priority measures vital not only to the safety of national security, but also to the financial well-being of our national economy.
I have tried to see both sides of this issue, and I have been swayed by the view that immigrants both legal and undocumented have been a vital factor in the growth of our nation throughout all of our history. And in times of stress due to war, recessions/depressions, and external threats, they are the first to be scapegoated.
More importantly, any interactions that one may have either socially or through one’s work or church activities reinforce the observation that people are basically good. To categorize them any other way is to isolate oneself from that simple principle of life.
Furthermore, statistics gathered by many non-partisan organizations support the fact that the number of “illegals” is steadily decreasing; that they are no more likely to be “welfare cheats” than any other sub-group of our population; and in fact, they comprise a very high percentage of entrepreneurs. I have visited many ethnically diverse neighborhoods in my work and have marveled at the sight of so many businesses reflective of this diversity. These businesses spring up in the soil of American inclusivism and opportunity.
The sight on the nightly news of families torn asunder who have raised and educated their children for many years, is very difficult to watch. These are not violent criminals. Violent criminals have been systemically tracked and incarcerated since the Clinton Administration. These families are escaping unfathomable violence and suffering. They need welcoming help and protection, not increasing separation and hate. I do not believe the latter is the President’s intention, but that is the result.
Separating, detaining, arresting and deporting undocumented immigrant families with no history of any serious criminal behavior is un-American, and weakens our moral standing in the world. Fortunately numerous Police Chiefs across the nation, including our own Chief Lawn, have stated they will not ask anyone’s immigration status, and will not allow local police to engage in federal immigration enforcement. They understand it would jeopardize their ability to fulfill their mandate “to protect and serve” their communities, and because it discourages people from reporting crimes or otherwise interacting with local officers. This makes us all less safe, not safer.
I urge the people of Watertown not only to support our police department’s immigration policies, but to also add our collective voice to those of our many neighboring communities as well as cities and towns throughout the country by declaring our commitment to protect residents who have not committed any serious crimes, regardless of their immigration status.
I have undertaken to become more involved with people of different backgrounds. I believe experiencing and getting to know different people firsthand helps overcome pre-conceived notions. There are many resources available in Watertown. I have found that Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment hosts many discussion groups inviting all citizens to attend and share their thoughts. What we know supports us, but what we fear fetters us.
Alfred J. Carbone
Riverside St., Watertown