“Guadalupe Olivas Valencia, 45, jumped from a bridge at the border after he was deported for the third time. He was found unconscious next to a plastic bag with his belongings and died in hospital a short while later. His death came as the Trump administration issued new guidelines to widen the net for deporting illegal immigrants from the US… Local media said a plastic bag like those US customs officers put migrants’ belongings in was next to the man.” This is part of an article published on Wednesday, February 22nd on BBC News.
Arguments on both sides have surfaced. One side acts with shock and awe toward the extreme heartbreak taking place around our nation because of current deportation enforcement actions. The other says the man knew what he was getting himself into when he broke our laws and is a coward for escaping a tough situation.
I am an immigrant who, like millions others, was first brought illegally into this country as a kid. In time, I became a legal permanent resident and then a proud citizen of this great nation. I am also someone who found himself at the edge of a cliff haunted by depression (both of these covered in my book). I don’t presume my views to be centered or balanced, but I think I have a unique perspective many might strongly agree or disagree with, but worth reading nonetheless.
I have always been controversial within the Hispanic community because I have never been one for “open borders.” I don’t think it is a radical idea to have a safe fence around our house. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for to knock on the front door and ask to come in instead of slipping through the basement regardless of how much free space we have at our home or how much you’re willing to help with the expenses. Trump is an asshole, but I do agree with “either we are a country of laws or we’re not.” Buuuuuuut, not speaking about the immigration issue as a whole is incomplete on the facts, ignorant of the full picture, and heartless in execution.
Regardless of how much we may agree or disagree with the current immigration system, the reality is that millions of people made it here one way or another—under Republican and Democrat presidents! Those millions of people had millions of babies and grand-babies. They made millions and millions of flesh and blood connections with this country, in this country, for this country, that you can’t just rip off from the root because all of a sudden we figured out a plan to deal with it.
A man took his own life because he was deported under Trump’s new deportation force. I’m not sure I’m ready to call out blood on people’s hands (though I’m certainly getting closer), but I do think there is heartbreak and torture in acting out so cold on this issue. To get to the point, I think a fair view is to say something like:
“Yeah, laws were broken and while we figured out what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, we let millions of people make a life here for decades and are raising American citizens that are contributing to our society. That happened on our watch. So we have to find a balance that takes into consideration our own deficiency as a country in not executing laws for decades and compassion for the reality of what happened in the process.”
Here is a drastic example to make a point: A lady steals some vegetables from the store and plants the seeds in a garden she started. 30 years have gone by and now the garden is huge and is feeding her, the four kids she had, their spouses and the 8 grand-kids that came after that. All of these lives are now dependent on this garden. And now, three decades later, the government decides that it is about time to do something about it and they show up in the middle of the night and they rip every single plant off that garden. Tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, watermelon, onions, peppers, apples, oranges, and so on and so forth are now uprooted, stepped on, and burnt into ashes while the family watches holding nothing but each other in terror. This is what kept them all alive this whole time. Yeah, the lady wasn’t supposed to take that bag of vegetables from the store 30 years ago. But that bag of veggies has grown into way much much much more now. The whole family is now ripped off of what’s keeping them alive. Their whole economic, social, educational system will be uprooted because of this catastrophe. The punishment you are applying now nowhere near fits the crime committed 30 years ago. To justify that man’s suicide as “he broke the law knowing what would happen” comes across as so… gosh, hard to put it into words.
A man drove himself into despair and took his own life because he broke the law by coming in and, for decades, built a life here that kept him and his loved ones alive while making flesh and blood connections with countless others who are doing the same thing and going through the same traumatic uprooting taking place in our country. Millions of people all across this nation are LITERALLY about to start puking blood—shitless scared because they know what is keeping them and their loved ones alive is about to get uprooted, destroyed and burnt into ashes. They are wondering who is going to kill themselves next and what they get is comments like the one above.
It is apples and oranges on crime and penalty. You are not just punishing single acts, you are destroying lives with countless connections built through decades. It hurts deep. Talk about laws. Sure. But don’t forget to act human.
Edited and updated from a response to a message posted on my Facebook wall: @FernandoMosheh