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Speak out about nation’s cruelty to immigrants

CHICAGO – By all accounts, the Trump administration is on an anti-immigrant tear that threatens to obliterate the already-broken immigration system in this country.

President Trump has ousted top officials, saying they weren’t as tough as he thought they should be, and elevated the anti-immigrant hardliner Stephen Miller.

At a Texas fundraiser (last) Wednesday, Trump made the border out to be an apocalyptic battlefield on which Central American gang members are threatening American ranchers. Trump even suggested the military is hamstrung by political correctness and can’t adequately mistreat migrants.

“Our military, don’t forget, can’t act like a military would act. Because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy,” Trump said.

The rumors coming out of the White House are astounding, everything from new policies making it harder for asylum seekers to pass their initial screenings – not passing triggers immediate deportation – to making it easier to deny green cards and possibly even reinstating last summer’s disastrous family-separation policy.

Observers of Trump’s Faustian appetite for gaining favor with his radical base at the expense of people looking for a lifeline in this country say he’s not likely to find some heart on this issue.

“This is an administration that by many reports appears willing to implement policies with questionable legal justifications because, regardless of whether the policy is inhumane or is struck down by a court in the future, they still see the public fight against immigrants and immigration as a win for Trump politically,” said Ur Jaddou, director of DHS Watch, the watchdog arm of the advocacy organization America’s Voice, at a recent press conference.

What to do?

A few weeks back I spoke to Adam Estle, field director and director of constituencies for the National Immigration Forum, a Washington-based advocacy organization. He told me that regular Americans have a lot of sway when it comes to whether policy proposals become reality – just by making their thoughts known to their elected officials.

Estle said social media, email, phone calls and even faxes can help make a difference.

“Offices keep track of phone calls on an issue and a personal letter – not a form letter that you just stick your name on, but a personally written letter about why this issue matters to you – is usually held in high regard, because it’s something that takes time,” Estle said. “But studies have shown that the very best way to get the attention of a member of Congress is in person. You can fairly easily access district offices and request someone who works on immigration to talk to.”

It’s not tough to reach out to your elected representatives in the House or the Senate, you need only Google the phrases “Who is my representative?” or “Who is my senator?” and you’ll usually get a variety of government sites that make searching by ZIP code or by state a breeze.

This pro tip comes from Griffin Anderson, a spokesperson for Marcy Kaptur, a Democratic congresswoman in the 9th district of Ohio: “At the bottom of every house website there is location and contact information for D.C. offices as well as offices in the district, and information for where to get in contact with the office and how find them in the district.”

Anderson told me that in-person meetings get more attention.

“We do read every single bit of correspondence – from social-media direct messages, to our mail, phone calls … but I think you can’t put a price on in-person meetings and being face-to-face when we hear your stories,” said Anderson, adding that most congressional offices will do town-hall and Q&A events in the community and people can talk to their representatives even if they don’t have public transportation or a car.

If you’ve never put pen to paper and mailed a physical letter, now is the time to drop a line to your elected officials, letting them know that you think the border is not a war zone and in fact needs humanitarian aid.

Call your representatives and, if necessary, leave voicemails and request call-backs insisting that no more families be penned like animals under bridges at the border, as was occurring just a few weeks ago due to overcrowding in facilities.

If you’re better on your feet, walk into an office and politely ask someone to listen – your voice matters greatly in not letting 2019 be the year the U.S. ceases to be a beacon of light for the world and instead becomes an international shame.

E-mail estherjcepeda@washpost.com, Twitter: @estherjcepeda.© 2019, Washington Post Writers Group.*

 

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