On­go­ing im­mi­grant roundups bear echoes of the Third Re­ich

Austin American-Statesman - - VIEWPOINTS - MAR­I­LYN LOVE, AUSTIN

When I was a girl, I was cap­ti­vated by “Anne Frank: The Di­ary of a Young Girl.” The as­pir­ing jour­nal­ist wrote her di­ary from 1942 to 1944 while she and her fam­ily were in Am­s­ter­dam hid­ing from the Gestapo. She wrote in such a way that I felt as though I were hid­ing there with her.

Frank wrote about her friends be­ing rounded up, placed in cat­tle cars and taken to camps to be gassed. Now, for the first time since read­ing her book, I’m feel­ing the same quick­ened heart­beat, hor­ror and fear, but this time for our Latin Amer­i­can im­mi­grants. Thanks to our new pres­i­dent, these “bad hom­bres,” “bad dudes” are be­ing rounded up by U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, ar­rested and tar­geted for de­por­ta­tion to coun­tries they may not know, coun­tries with gangs and ex­treme poverty.

And what a sloppy job they’re do­ing. Sup­pos­edly, only the most dan­ger­ous, vi­o­lent crim­i­nals are tar­gets. Yet in the re­cent raid, ac­cord­ing to ICE data, 55 per­cent of the 51 peo­ple ar­rested from the Austin area were non­crim­i­nals, and only two had con­vic­tions of a vi­o­lent crime: as­sault. The ma­jor­ity were merely sus­pected of be­ing here il­le­gally.

I know these peo­ple. Hav­ing earned a Span­ish de­gree be­fore be­com­ing a nurse, my charge nurses knew that my fa­vorite fam­i­lies were the mono­lin­gual Span­ish speak­ers, so for more than 30 years I got to care for their ba­bies when­ever pos­si­ble.

I loved these fam­i­lies. They were so un­com­pli­cated, so grate­ful for ev­ery­thing we did for them. They were prac­tic­ing Catholics with small al­tars in their homes dec­o­rated with a can­dle, flow­ers and im­ages of Je­sus or the Vir­gin Mary. They did not smoke or drink. They were rel­a­tively un­e­d­u­cated and poor, but many of them rich in ways we can only imag­ine. They loved their ba­bies as much as any other fam­ily in neona­tal in­ten­sive care.

Merida from El Salvador has been a close friend for 25 years. Thirty years ago, she left her three young chil­dren with her par­ents to come to this coun­try to earn money to send back home. She told me of the har­row­ing ideal of travers­ing some 1,200 miles to Texas with a small group of hope­ful im­mi­grants led by a paid guide, or “coy­ote.” She talked about hunger, bad weather and hid­ing from po­lice and gangs.

Only a des­per­ate per­son would leave their chil­dren and suf­fer that kind of hard­ship. They come from places with no op­por­tu­nity to the land of op­por­tu­nity to toil and live like pau­pers so they can send money home. Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the World Bank, in 2015 they sent $67 bil­lion home to lift their fam­i­lies out of poverty.

They pick our fruits and veg­eta­bles, clean our toi­lets, work in hot restau­rant kitchens and build our build­ings. The vast ma­jor­ity of the con­struc­tion work­ers I see down­town are im­mi­grants. They work hard. They are de­pend­able and loyal. Ask any em­ployer.

For all the blus­ter spew­ing forth from our pres­i­dent, you’d think they were tak­ing our jobs. They are not. They are do­ing work that Amer­i­cans don’t want.

And don’t talk to me about their com­ing here to use our ser­vices. The ones I know are too fear­ful to sign up for Med­i­caid. When Merida’s body gives out, she will re­turn to El Salvador to en­joy her golden years with her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, who she knows only by tele­phone. She will not be tak­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity nor Medi­care.

Dur­ing hard times in Anne Frank’s post-World War I Ger­many, the Jews were scape­goated — and mur­dered. Now, with man­u­fac­tur­ing job loss due to au­to­ma­tion and glob­al­iza­tion, im­mi­grants in our coun­try are be­ing scape­goated — rounded up and de­ported. Does his­tory re­ally have to re­peat it­self ?

Im­mi­grants are real peo­ple, just like you and me. They are here be­cause of sim­ple sup­ply-and-de­mand eco­nomics, and I’m grate­ful. They have cer­tainly en­riched my life.

Re: Feb. 26 com­men­tary, “Heal­ing won’t be­gin un­til LASA rep­re­sents all of Austin ISD.”

The States­man has pub­lished yet an­other mis­guided screed about the racial makeup of the Lib­eral Arts and Sci­ence Acad­emy. LASA is a na­tion­ally rec­og­nized school with a race-blind ad­mis­sions pol­icy. If blacks and His­pan­ics are un­der­rep­re­sented at LASA, it is be­cause too many Austin In­de­pen­dent School District stu­dents fail to ob­tain the pri­mary school ed­u­ca­tion needed to pre­pare for an aca­dem­i­cally ad­vanced mag­net high school.

As the par­ent of three LASA grad­u­ates, I know the work re­quired to suc­ceed there. Austin ISD’s fo­cus should be on prepar­ing stu­dents in el­e­men­tary

I’m re­ally tired of Trump sup­port­ers telling me to “get over it.” I won’t. I don’t need to wait any longer to see how he does. Ev­ery ac­tion he’s taken goes against all I be­lieve. Ken Her­man can say what­ever he wants in his col­umn be­cause we still have a free press in spite of Trump. And I can say what­ever I be­lieve be­cause of free speech.

We don’t need to make Amer­ica great “again.” It’s al­ways been great and will con­tinue to be great as long as these two in­sti­tu­tions are in place. What are you afraid of ? That we might hit on some truth you can’t deny? Are you feel­ing buyer’s re­morse yet? Do you miss Obama now that he’s gone? I do. I’m not go­ing to be quiet. In the words of Sen. John Lewis, I’m go­ing to “get in the way”!


If the school district bows to Lib­eral Arts and Sci­ence Acad­emy par­ents, it will con­tinue to push LBJ High School stu­dents fur­ther away, an Austin reader writes.


Pro­test­ers rally for im­mi­grants’ rights and sanc­tu­ary cities and against a bor­der wall Feb. 28 at the Capi­tol.


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