The Time is Now

One of my recently favorite shows is about time travel.  Two groups of Americans are traveling through history, each one trying to ‘save’ the present/future by stopping the other group.  The ongoing question is whether it would be better to change history – save Lincoln, kill Capone – or if it’s best to keep history the way it was, even if that reality was really quite horrible.  They chase each other through history trying to solve the debate.

timeless

I’m not quite sure why I love the show – it’s a hapless mix of history, sci-fi, and drama – and while the characters are great, the plot is unbelievable and confusing.

Maybe I love it because I love hero stories.  On the days when nothing I do seems to make a real difference in the world, it’s fun to get lost in a story where average people really DO make a difference.  Even if that difference is all make – believe.

Many of my regular readers noticed that I haven’t posted in 3 weeks, which is a long break.  The Graduate Preaching Fellowship continues, but my focus is changing.  Due to the recent Executive Order from the US president, most agencies that work with refugees in the US have to lay off employees and will, effectively, be helping fewer refugees for the next 4 years*.

While the goal was always to transition to Latino Immigration around this time of the school year, it’s hard to be objective during a time of great political turmoil.  Thanks for your patience, dear readers, while I process myself what the future might hold for us.

I don’t have a time machine.  I can’t go back to change the past, and I can’t predict the future.  So how do I know what to do now?  

So, dear readers, I’m still going to be posting stories and pictures about my work in MI and around the US and Latin America as I learn more about immigrants and refugees in Michigan, in the US, and around the world.

dove border fence

Until then, I share with you this poem on which I’ve been reflecting:

I know, I know
If you could go back you
would walk with Jesus
You would march with King
Maybe assassinate Hitler
At least hide Jews in your basement
It would all be clear to you
But people then, just like you
were baffled, had bills
to pay and children they didn’t
understand and they too
were so desperate for normalcy
they made anything normal
Even turning everything inside out
Even killing, and killing, and it’s easy
for turning the other cheek
to be looking the other way, for walking
to be talking, and they hid
in their houses
and watched it on television, when they had television,
and wrung their hands
or didn’t, and your hands
are just like theirs. Lined, permeable,
small, and you
would follow Caesar, and quote McCarthy, and Hoover, and you would want
to make Germany great again
Because you are afraid, and your
parents are sick, and your
job pays shit and where’s your
dignity? Just a little dignity and those kids sitting down in the highway,
and chaining themselves to
buildings, what’s their fucking problem? And that kid
That’s King. And this is Selma. And Berlin. And Jerusalem. And now
is when they need you to be brave.
Now
is when we need you to go back
and forget everything you know
and give up the things you’re chained to
and make it look so easy in your
grandkids’ history books (they should still have them, kinehora)
Now
is when it will all be clear to them.
Danny Bryck

 

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What do we do now?

Making our Voices Heard

Last week, President Trump signed an executive order changing US immigration and refugee policy. (read the full text, with annotations here)

Like thousands of other Americans, David and I protested at our local airport.

We protested because over 1,000 individuals were arrested, detained, or denied access to the United States (including children as young as 11 months old being separated from their parents) in dozens of airports across the country.

can-he-do-that

Well sort of, yes.  He can.

Presidents do have the authority to change some of America’s refugee and immigration policies, whether those changes are moral or popular or helpful.

Executive orders are signed by lots of presidents, often about issues that are important to their own political party, and often half of Americans are really angry about them.

In the past, organizations opposed to Immigration-related executive orders have staged small protests, written strongly worded letters, called congress representatives, etc.  These rarely have an effect, because the President didn’t do anything wrong, even if we didn’t like the actions.

But this time was different.
In part because social media made it possible for 5,000 people to protest together at DTW with less than 36 hours notice.
In part because this executive order was different than what we’ve seen before, so more people were opposed to it.

DSC_2838.JPG

lot of people were upset.  5,000 at the Detroit airport alone.  We were everywhere.

This order was significantly different than anything passed before for 4 reasons:
1.  This order affects people, not just paperwork
2.  This order causes direct harm to legal immigrants and US citizens
3.  This order went into effect without warning, and without training of border agents (so, it’s possible that people were detained whom the President never meant to block).
4.  This order was signed without any direct cause, reason, or security concern.

Past presidents have occasionally restricted paperwork processing due to specifically identified threats.  No one has ever kicked US soldiers, parents, employees, students, and refugees off of a plane.

“I did not know the president can sign such orders.  It looks like those autocratic leaders in corrupt countries, not in a democratic modern country like America.”
Syrian refugee, stranded in an airport in Turkey

It might take months or years to determine if the Executive Order is constitutional.  In the meantime, we are repeating history:

july-1938 (1).png

So, because of that attitude, we turned away a boat full of Jewish Refugees in 1939.

jewish-refugees-1939.jpg

Was it legal to deny them entry?  Yes.  Was our National Security at stake?  Perhaps.
Was it moral, reasonable, or patriotic?  NO.

That is why we march.  That is why I preach.  That is why we work towards welcome.  I hope for a day when I can proudly proclaim that the greatest country in the world is welcoming the most vulnerable and changing the world for the better.