Phoenix, February 2017: A protestor ties himself to an ICE van in an effort to prevent the deportation of Guadalupe García de Rayos.
On February 17, the AP reported the existence of an 11-page Department of Homeland Security memo outlining the possible use of 100,000 National Guard troops in immigration raids. The story first met a denial from the White House, followed by the subsequent admission from ICE that the memo was circulated but will not be implemented. In its place, ICE released new policy guidelines foretelling an equally draconian future.
Darkness is coming. It has descended on immigrant communities before. We survived. We shall again.
Former Arizona state legislator and immigration reform activist Alfredo Gutierrez recently appeared on Phoenix Channel 12's Sunday Square Off to discuss the convergence of the personal and political in his recent book To Sin Against Hope: How America Has Failed Its Immigrants.
One of his hopes for the book, which chronicles the history of Mexican immigrants in the United States through his own family's story, is that it will inform younger generations about past struggles for civil rights in order to contextualize the current issues facing Latinos and immigrants in the US. Gutierrez explains:
I was motivated to write the book because there is such ignorance, not only among Latinos but folks in this country about America's unique relationship with Mexicans in the United States, and with immigration policy vis-a-vis Mexicans in the United States, and there continues to be a concerted effort in [Arizona] led by General Horn and by public superindentent hupenthal to keep the public in ignorance, fighting any attempt to visit this unique history of America and Arizona.
...I think young folks in particular ought to understand how this notion that we are failed people came about and the degree to which we are complicit in that perception.
Giving millions of immigrants false hope and unattainable promises is not what we need. We need congress to stop building fences in front of immigrants, and begin to build bridges among nations. This will help achieve true immigration reform, and not send us once again hurtling down the path to failure, and to failing this nation’s immigrants.