Bleeding hearts for lawbreakers
The Providence Journal recently ran a tearjerker of a story about the terrible trauma illegal immigrants are facing in Rhode Island since Gov. Donald L. Carcieri’s March executive order requiring companies doing business with the state to verify the status of their employees and his call for state police troopers and prison guards to be trained to enforce immigration laws. The tug at your heartstrings starts right from the beginning of the article:
Several weeks ago, the Rev. Jaime Garcia, pastor of St. Michael Church in South Providence, received a call for help: a man had died at home of a heart attack and the family wanted a priest there for support.
When Father Garcia arrived at the rented home off Hartford Avenue, he found the yard filling with about 35 grieving relatives and friends of the deceased Guatemalan, a husband and father and a legal immigrant whose son was preparing to join the Army. Father Garcia tried to shepherd the anguished mourners into the house so they could pray together.
“But they wouldn’t go inside,” Father Garcia says. Several in the group were illegal immigrants. “They were afraid Immigration would find them. They said, ‘We’re staying out here. In case the police come, we’ll have a chance to run.’?”
For unity’s sake the entire group remained outside. “I prayed with them in the backyard,” Father Garcia says.
“It was so sad. They were afraid to pray together in the home.”
[The first question that comes to mind upon reading that opening is, Were all 35 grieving Guatamalan relatives living in that rental home at the same time? But the horrors go on:]
At St. Michael Church, Father Garcia says, new parishioners won’t register their addresses with church officials for fear that immigration agents may enter the religious sanctuaries and demand records. Mass attendance is down in several Hispanic parishes.
Hispanic businesses report a drastic drop in business, in part they say, because of their customers’ fear of leaving their homes. [. . . ]
Fears are driving illegal immigrants further underground, or even causing some to leave the state.
“Everybody,” says Father Garcia, “is afraid to live.”
[Brace yourself for the tragedy of Baby New Year]:
Locally there have been many flashpoints.
Among them, a federal raid last year on a New Bedford factory that swept more than 320 people into detention, and the death last August of a Brazilian national in ICE custody in Providence. In January, ICE agents arrested the father of Rhode Island’s first New Year’s Baby of 2008; hours later, his roommate — an illegal immigrant — was found hanging, dead from an apparent suicide.
[And thus an entire underground community lives in fear]:
Dr. Pablo Rodriguez is a prominent obstetrician and Latino political leader who says in the month following Carcieri’s executive order, his patients skipped appointments in large numbers. “We had no-shows of as much as 40 percent,” he said. “It was unbelievable.”
“People were very, very afraid to come out of their houses.” That fear was confirmed, Rodriguez says, by callers to his Saturday morning radio show. “I literally had people calling the show to ask if it is safe to go to the doctor, and had another lady call to ask whether it was safe to take the kids to school. And I had another lady ask if it was safe to go to Wal-Mart. These people were not being facetious.”
[The story closes with the familiar claim that this is really about all of us, with all the usual buzzwords employed]:
The executive order “is not just something that affects undocumented citizens or illegal aliens, however they want to call them,” Rodriguez says. “It affects anyone foreign in any way, shape or form –– all Latinos –– and that we’re not welcome in the State of Rhode Island and it’s this ‘us versus them’ mentality; the language the governor continues to use.”
Rhode Islanders once spoke proudly of their state’s diversity, says Rodriguez.
“And now we can’t say the same thing.”
— Hispanics deplore climate of fear, posted Sept. 2 at the Providence Journal’s website at projo.com
Their only crime was breaking the law: Immigration and Naturalization Ser vice agents frisk a group of suspected illegal immigrants.