ICE is the gestap-who now?

Okay, we’ve all heard why the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is like the Gestapo. Videos and articles will explain to you why, as well as a familiarity with Nazi Germany and its history.

But I’m not here to reiterate that point. I’m going to let you know why deporting people is a bad idea for this country (beyond the fact that it’s immoral and cruel).

I bet you didn’t learn this in any of your history classes: Between 1929 and 1936, there was a mass deportation of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, and 60% were American citizens by birth. This was likened to ethnic cleansing because it was based solely on race rather than citizenship. And get this – there’s evidence it furthered the economic downturn during the Great Depression. They deported around 1 million people. (More info here and here).

How did they do it? First, they allowed for voluntary repatriation (sounds familiar). Then the country’s hostility towards immigrants worsened. This led to harsh hiring policies which led to employers avoiding applicants of Mexican descent entirely. President Hoover added agents to help enforce immigration. And guess who they targeted: people who were openly protesting and picketing such actions. The process of deportation violated the 4th Amendment and due process laws, similar to ICE practices now.

Fast forward to 2005 when California passed the “Apology Act for the 1930s Mexican Repatriation Program.” They admitted what they did was wrong. Things that we are doing again presently.

But don’t immigrants take away jobs? Don’t they hurt the economy? The Small Business Association disagrees. In fact, immigrants start more business than non-immigrants, and guess which group of people does this the most? Mexican immigrants. Harrisonburg’s very own Brent Finnegan created a movie, “The Latino Underground,” about how Appalachia in particular benefits from migrant workers.

But is ICE really all that bad? That’s up to individual judgement. But I urge you to look at who they target. Sure, if they were only deporting people that committed crimes like drug smuggling, gang violence, and theft. Instead, they are deporting “criminals” who didn’t pay parking tickets. Nevermind the fact that most of them have only ever known the United States as their home. Many people had no chance at saying goodbye to loved ones. Countless individuals have gotten lost in the system so their families can’t even find them and have no idea what treatment they are receiving. 

They are deporting doctors. They are deporting children. They are deporting people.  Still, every person has inherent worth. Who am I to say that my neighbor can’t live here but I can? Should I have to be a doctor or an entrepreneur to be allowed to decide where I live?

Remember that we are all people who all deserve a fair shot at a decent life, no matter where we come from. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of our history.

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