Guest Opinion: If only they’d come the right way….

BY ZACHARY GITTRICH

A common refrain among the anti-immigrant crowd is “Well, if only they’d come the right way, they wouldn’t have these problems,” referring to the threat of deportation/removal by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). As if this absolves the Federal government of kidnapping children from their parents.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stated immigrants, documented or not, will be detained for deportation on the mere suspicion of a crime. Not convicted–not innocent until proven guilty; merely suspected of a crime. Nor has ICE wasted any time enforcing such a policy.
In Los Angeles, Jose Luis Garcia, a law-abiding legal permanent resident whose lived for 50 years in America legally was detained by ICE for deportation. Their reasoning: 20 years ago he was involved in a domestic incident. Apparently, it was irrelevant that he had served his sentence and had not committed any crimes since. In Cincinnati, a 22-year old mother of two who has legal status, was detained when she went to an ICE facility to bail out an inmate. In February, 7 people were detained when they went to federal buildings for the express purpose of fixing their status; they were there trying to “come the right way.”
One of the most common objections to a welcoming ordinance is that it promotes undocumented immigration–it’s unfair to legal immigrants. This was an objection of Councilwoman Akeson’s. She knows several immigrants that “came the right way,” they work for her, and over time she’s built a good working relationship with them (and she pays them very well, according to her).
They believe it’s unfair to help the undocumented when they had to do it “right,” and for this reason the councilwoman opposes an ordinance. But with the recent actions by this administration what would happen if these friends of Councilwoman Akeson’s were working at her house and ICE bursts through her gates with the intention of arresting someone who had recently been arrested for a petty offense– disorderly conduct–not convicted, just arrested. Would the councilwoman run out of her house, imploring ICE to halt their activities because her friend has legal status, he has due process rights that should not be infringed upon? And if they detained this friend of hers anyway, would the councilwoman rush to their aid procuring them an attorney to help them get bail while they await their court date in order to continue working? Certainly, even the councilwoman would view this as an injustice perpetrated by an overbearing government?
But if they’d only come the right way.
On Flag Day, our resident servant-leader, Councilman Oyler (who also opposes a Welcoming Ordinance), displayed a Gadsden Flag at City Council– the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. A classic image of Americana, dating back to the War for Independence, symbolizing the people’s struggle against tyrannical government that doesn’t respect civil rights like due process of law, right to an attorney, freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Since 2012, nearly 2,000 American citizens–not undocumented, not legal-permanent residents–citizens were detained by ICE, some for up to three
years. Three years… that’s a lot of years. If that is not the definition of a government treading I don’t know what is. Why would anyone–citizen or immigrant–trust going to the police if a simple mistake in their name being recorded in a Database could lead to being unjustly detained in blatant violations of their rights to due process? Aren’t relationships between the community and police strained enough already? Why would any elected official who believes in loving thy neighbor and inalienable god-given
civil rights want their police affiliated with a big government agency committing such unlawful acts?
But if only they’d come the right way.
I’m sorry to tell you, but the current administration doesn’t care about the right way. And, it is for this reason that a Welcoming Ordinance for Peoria is so imperative.

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