As you are preparing for Christmas with your family, remember that families are being torn apart by our national campaign of ethnic cleansing.
What is a mother without her children?
The thought consumes Maria, now an accomplished woman of 46, as she sits in a truck transporting her across the Mexican state of Hidalgo. Dark clouds fill the sky, but the landscape is familiar. She can make out Cerrito de la Cruz, the green hills that surround Santa Monica and its several hundred residents.
It’s Aug. 17, 2017. More than 30 years after her father beat her, more than 20 years since she moved north of the border, she and her husband, Eusebio Sanchez, have been deported amid President Trump’s tightening of immigration. They are on their way back to the village of her childhood. The village she resolved to leave so long ago.
To give up the life she had built was wrenching. Worse, though, is thinking about how the path she chose has led — inescapably, it seems now — to an agonizing decision: to split up her family.
Left behind in Oakland are her three daughters, ages 16, 21 and 23. They can still pursue their futures there. The oldest, Vianney, is legally protected as a “childhood arrival” to America; Melin and Elizabeth are U.S. citizens by birth.
Her youngest child, 12-year-old Jesus, has come with her and her husband to Mexico. Born a citizen, he could have stayed in Oakland, too. But a boy his age needs his mother, she reasoned. And perhaps she needs him, too.
Just days ago, Maria was still a full-time nurse and mother in a busy household. Her family was not so unusual: More than 4 million U.S. citizens under age 18 have an undocumented parent, the U.S. Census estimates, and more than a quarter of those live in California.
Maria and Eusebio had held a slim hope of staying in the U.S. thanks to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who called the removal of law-abiding parents “a travesty” that contradicted Trump’s stated goal of targeting immigrants with criminal records. But her efforts failed. There would be no last-minute reprieve.
Instead, the couple has come to embody weighty questions confronting American society: What do we expect of our immigrant communities? How do we judge their lives and the fateful decisions they’ve made? What do we owe them?
For huge numbers of white Americans, we owe them nothing, even though they have paid taxes for years and years and years. Instead, they are vermin to be eliminated. This is what the United States is–a racist and white supremacist nation that periodically seeks to cleanse itself of the immigrant menace, such as peaceful families quietly raising the next generation of Americans. It is a shameful nation and the fact that for huge parts of “the resistance,” this is hardly a blip among the problems that motivate them is highly depressing.
Of course, there are people actively resisting. They are mostly the affected populations, operating in very difficult conditions, many of them likely to be deported themselves. One of the real resisters is Albert Pacheco, and he has a good message to take into 2018:
Whenever people say “power” you imagine a lot of things, like, “Only people with money have power.” That is my first thought. But, when you learn that, you have a group of people, you have you, that is power. If you tell them what their rights are, that is power. Now, if you get collective power of people and you start teaching them how to create power with money, community, you put all of those things together, you have more power. And it doesn’t take just one person. Everybody can move together and change that, and do that. That was the big thing… I was confused about that at first, but then over the year of practicing more and more and more, you start to understand that. That power can be used in a good way and a bad way. We have to learn how to use it in a good way and for our own benefit.
[People] should know that no matter how difficult the fight looks, it is not impossible. That is the truth. I lived like that for twenty-seven years thinking that it was impossible to make a change. But, now you’re seeing it more often. Look at what happened in Alabama. Collective power by organizing people.