Opinion | Susan Knopf: Uplift and empower our immigrant community
For the Record
I live in Summit County because I feel at home with the community values the vast majority of our citizens live each and every day. I feel a sense of comfort and pride of place knowing that I’m a part of community that genuinely cares about neighbors, the environment, living a healthy lifestyle and creating a positive culture that allows diverse people to thrive and grow.
Outside our little snow globe has never felt more foreign to me than it does right now. Can someone tell me when decency and integrity took a back seat to xenophobia, greed and political gamesmanship? Can we all treat each other as we’d like to be treated?
A June Fox News poll found 52% of Americans say voting for a candidate who has “high ethical standards” is most important. Seventy-four percent of respondents say they’ll be “voting for a candidate who will unite Americans around shared values.”
Can we start with the shared value so beautifully articulated by Emma Lazarus, the 1903 inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty?
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“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Can we please start with people escaping drug war violence and seeking economic opportunity? I wrestle painfully with the idea that those who are struggling to find a better life encounter some of the worst inhumanity as they are subjugated by our border services.
This week, the Associated Press, New York Times, WAMU and others reported hundreds of migrant children were removed from a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas. WAMU and the Times reported lawyer Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, said, “There is a stench. The overwhelming majority of children have not bathed since they crossed the border. … The conditions were the most degrading and inhumane conditions I have ever seen and I have been representing asylum-seeking children and their families in detention facilitates since 2007. This is unacceptable and should not be happening in America.”
WAMU reported Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier visited the Ursula detention center in McAllen, Texas, and said, “What impacted me the most was the inability of the mothers to wash their infant’s formula bottles. … They rinse (the bottles) with water that’s supposed to be used for drinking, in a bathroom sink that does not have running water, and they have no soap.”
Courthouse News Service reports more than 1,400 unaccompanied immigrant children are expected to be held at a former Japanese Internment camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
For the record, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports 56,278 unaccompanied alien children were detained this year through the end of May, a 74% increase over last year. In my humble opinion, this is a problem President Donald Trump created. Well maybe he didn’t create it, but he sure exacerbated it. When we first started reporting Trump’s border immigration emergency, there was no emergency. The more he ranted about it, the more the problem grew.
More people were apprehended in the first eight months — 676,000 people — of the 2019 fiscal year than in any other 12-month period in the past five years. Just prior to Trump’s wall emergency and government shutdown to get his wall, immigration apprehensions were down. The lowest immigration rates occurred in 2017 according to Border Protection.
We’re spending billions going into profiteers’ pockets to warehouse these people, often in filthy cages, when they could be working, paying taxes and contributing. Proper efficient border security would mean good-paying jobs for Americans, instead of billions of taxpayer dollars going to deficient and inhumane warehousing.
I’m proud that one of the newest charities in Summit County is Mountain Dreamers, an organization dedicated to pushing forward citizenship and opportunities for young people who were brought here as children.
In a town meeting this week, state Rep. Julie McCluskie and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser spoke about how the Summit County community is often a model for the state, and the state a model of political cooperation for the nation. We hope Mountain Dreamers and the myriad of Summit County programs designed to uplift and empower our immigrant workforce will enlighten and encourage others to follow suit.
Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf has worn many hats in her career, including working as an award-winning journalist and certified ski instructor. She moved to Silverthorne in 2013 after vacationing in Summit County since the 1970s. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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