The brutal enforcement of Trump’s immigration policies has yet again torn a hard working family man away from his distraught wife and children. Ironically, it happened on the very day of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday – a day when many of us celebrate Dr. King’s stand for civil rights and social justice. On that morning, social justice was in short supply in Detroit as 39-year-old Jorge Garcia was escorted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents onto a waiting plane destined for Mexico.
Jorge’s heartbreaking family farewell was captured on video by the Detroit Free Press and was shared throughout social media. The video puts a very real face on the trauma that devastates those left behind, when families are callously torn apart.
As USA Today reported, Jorge’s only offence was having been brought to the U.S. by an undocumented aunt when he was only 10 years old. Had Jorge been born but two years earlier, he would have qualified for protection under the DACA program, at least for the time being, and more importantly, he would still be here with his family.
In announcing his new immigration policies, President Trump had originally promised that only the so-called “bad hombres” from Mexico would be deported–those with criminal records who posed a perceived threat to the security of the American people. In practice, however, immigration officials have now been directed to go after anyone who is found to be here illegally, regardless of how exemplary that person’s time here may have been. In Jorge’s case, a friend was quoted as saying, “…he’s never been in trouble, period. He’s never even gotten a traffic ticket.”
It is time we as a society ask ourselves: who is being served by these policies? Who benefited by separating Jorge from his family, and forcing him to return to a country he has never lived in as an adult? Who among us can point to that case and comfortably say yes, that was justified because we now feel more safe and secure?
In federal prosecution and enforcement cases there needs to be a clear government interest at the heart of the matter. What government – meaning public – interest was served by deporting a decent, hardworking family man? Hardliners may point to the rule of law, and how those who break the rules must pay the price. That argument certainly holds true when serious matters of life and property are at issue. But the hard line argument falls seriously short when a longtime, otherwise law abiding resident of this country, is unceremoniously uprooted from his life and family; and for no apparent reason other than a harsh, strict interpretation of immigration guidelines.
At some point our collective American conscience needs a softening of the heart, and we must face the fact that breaking up decent families, regardless of their legally recognized status, serves no useful or rational purpose. There are those who often raise the virtue of “family values” when various social issues take center stage. One might ask of Jorge’s situation, do these strict immigration enforcements trump family values? Is it really in our national interest to break up a family by callously deporting the primary breadwinner? Who wins in this scenario?
And we also have to look at who is being targeted for deportation in this current crackdown. It appears that the majority are people of color from places the president reportedly referred to as “shithole countries”. That vile comment alone speaks volumes about his administration’s racist, anti-immigrant agenda. One has to wonder how many – if any – undocumented immigrants from Norway the Trump administration has deported?
We as Americans profess that we stand for liberty and justice for all, not just some. There is no justice in the ongoing enforcement of these callous and hurtful deportations. We who believe that all means all, must not look the other way when these actions are taken. Instead, let us face the issue head on, and raise our voices to demand a stop to the ripping apart of decent American families for no justifiable public interest.
Credit: Detroit Public TV
Jorge Garcia’s story of deportation has made national news, bringing to light how the current administration’s immigration policies are affecting families. One Detroit’s Bill Kubota spent some time with the Garcia family last weekend, just days before Jorge had to leave the country and went with them to the airport when they had to say goodbye.
Gary Takesian is a documentary filmmaker and graphic artist living in Yorba Linda.
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