An alien, an immigrant.
I woke up a bit angry today — as an immigrant myself, this situation feels harrowing. I know of no more distressing situation than not knowing if you can go home — because I’ve experienced it countless times.
Even though I’m here legally, I’m white, raised catholic, and generally unassuming on the count of my subdued accent, I’m plagued by this fear every time I come back. It’s made going back to my home country an anxious ridden activity and something I do with great care and preparation.
What the people impacted by this absurdity are going through right now I can’t understand and I don’t think anyone can.
Most of the people reading this will never experience the dehumanizing notion that your papers define who you are. You are told by professionals and lawyers trying to help you, that you should come ready to fight, but also know you might lose. You are told to carry bank statements, credit cards, a letter from your employer, anything to help your case — all to walk through immigration.
This is not a joke, and it’s no joke.
Imagine a close family member far away is dying. Imagine wanting to see them for one last time and dealing with this and not being able to get back after that, not knowing when and if you will. These are the people being detained and turned away, this is what is happening right now as fear controls and consumes the process, it’ll consume us all.
It’s the grey beyond subhuman, it’s inhuman. We are better than this.
I spoke to my mother about a trip back I’m supposed to make and likely won’t and it’s the most heartbreaking thing I’ve done in a long time and although I can’t vote but I won’t stay quiet because they can’t take my voice away from me.
If you are still reading, I’d like to tell you a story about the first time I got ran by “secondary processing” at an airport coming home. They took my passport and asked me to wait in what seemed routine. Around me were refugees, people who had been deported and other “undesirables.” I felt undesirable.
As I sat, through an open door I overheard an interview in progress. At least something I rationalized as an “interview,” but was more like questioning — the assumption of culpability, the opposite of what’s described under article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the US Government subscribes.
The officer yelled:
“I’ll be the one to decide if you’re lying or not”
I only heard a whimper:
“I did everything right. Don’t send me back, please.”
She was probably was sent back, and I’ll never forget those voices — the entitlement of “authority” and the fear of the oppressed.
I’ve done everything right too.
They can come after me.
They’ll come after you.