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Day 535 – Melting Pot, But Only of All White People, Mr. President?

Day 535 – Melting Pot, But Only of All White People, Mr. President?

Dear Mr. President,

The unspeakable and inhumane cruelty that you are visiting upon families who have followed the normal procedures to seek admittance to the U.S. is horrifying. Our country used to be a beacon of hope, sought by so many immigrants and refugees who started their lives anew here. Like many Americans, I am the descendant of such migration and had taken deep pride in being part of a place that embraced others and felt richer for their presence.

No more.

As you expel immigrant members of the military (for no reason given), tear babies and children from their parents when they presented themselves to authorities at border crossings to ask to be admitted, and look to illegally seize DNA information on minors because you apparently have no other way to reunify families, you do damage to our nation that I fear will take generations to overcome. I, and millions of Americans, beg you to stop, to return to the protocols of ANY former U.S. president from the past 50 years – Republican or Democrat, it hardly matters. For it would be far superior to the horror you are visiting upon so many, directly, and all of your citizens, indirectly, by smearing us with the stench of your inhumanity and utter incompetence.

I feel more strongly than ever before that the end of your presidency cannot come soon enough.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 534 – Letter to Hopeless Americans: Stop Feeling Hopeless. Do Something.

Day 534 – Letter to Hopeless Americans: Stop Feeling Hopeless. Do Something.

Image from The Cut

Dear Hopeless Americans,

The first family reunification deadlines are now approaching. The court in the San Diego, California case issued a ruling that children under 5 years old must be returned by Tuesday, July 10th, and the remaining children by July 26th. As described in the letter for Day 477, the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t exactly have a good reputation for keeping track of the immigrant children in its care. However, it’s become clear that the Trump administration kept pathetically, arguably criminally, inadequate records of the approximately 3,000 children that it removed from the care of their families at the border.  This number is a marked increase from the 2,047 figure the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported only 9 days before this estimate, despite HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s claim that “the government knows the identities and location of all the minors under the department’s care.”  Secretary Azar held conference calls with members of the House and Senate on Friday to discuss the family separation policy.  According to Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (a Democrat), the call revealed “more shocking questions raised about whether info and [a] system exists to reunify children with parents.

The court order also required the government to ensure that children were able to call their parents at least twice a week, but coverage by numerous sources, including CNN, NPR and PBS News Hour, indicate that even this task has proven challenging for the administration.  Jennifer Podkul is the policy director for non-profit providing children’s advocacy services in immigration court and has stated, “It is evident … that there is no consistent policy for ensuring communication among separated children and parents.”

A guest on a recent episode of my favorite podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, defined grief as “reckoning with what cannot be undone.”  The PBS News Hour article points to a lot of grief caused by the Trump administration’s spiteful family separation policy.  According to Howard Zucker, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, “[p]rolonged stress (also known as toxic stress) can permanently disrupt the structure and function of a child’s developing brain.”  New York City health care official Mitchell Katz confirmed that “NYC Health + Hospitals have treated several children … separated from their families at the southwestern United States border … for such condition[s] as asthma, strep throat, and suicidal ideation.” The Trump administration has already requested an extension of the family reunification deadlines, which simply means the damage they have done will be further prolonged and harder to reverse, if it’s even possible to do so.

What’s most disturbing to me is that this policy of separating families is a form of retribution for and deterrent from seeking asylum. Punishing people, especially in this way, because they asked for help demonstrates ill will and shows us to be ruthless and hard-hearted. As Americans, we face a grave reckoning with the harm we’ve permitted to be done in our names.  And we should mourn the stain this has made on the moral fabric of our nation.

Based on the definition of grief provided above, I think the difference between grief and hope is the possibility of change. We grieve when something happens that, for whatever reason, is unchangeable. On the other hand, we wallow when we’re indulging in self-pity.  Not all hope is lost. It’s still possible to make amends for the vindictive actions committed on our behalf and change our ways.  Please support the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) or one of the many other organizations working to assist the children forcibly removed from their parents simply because they asked for our help.

Sincerely,

Christine Trinh and Letters2Trump

 

Day 517 – You Are Weak, Not Strong, Mr. President.

Day 517 – You Are Weak, Not Strong, Mr. President.

Image from USA Today

Mr. President,

In speaking with Sen. Graham today you offered this quote:

“The dilemma is that if you’re weak, if you’re weak, which some people would like you to be, if you’re really, really pathetically weak, the country’s going to be overrun with millions of people. And if you’re strong, then you don’t have any heart. That’s a tough dilemma. Perhaps I would rather be strong, but that’s a tough dilemma.”

No, Mr. President, it’s not a tough dilemma. Separating more than 2000 kids from their families is not a tough dilemma.  Housing children as young as 1 in “tender-age” facilities is not a tough dilemma.  To think it is a tough dilemma further cements my belief that you are a heartless monster.

You, and all of your spineless Republican colleagues, care nothing about how this country was founded and built on the backs of immigrants.  You hate the possibility that anyone who looks different might be offered a chance to improve their life in our country.  You believe that making America “great” means keeping America white. You mistakenly believe that you are strong because you use walls and guns and jails.

But Mr. President you are not strong, you are weak.  Do you know why?  Because you are scared.  Scared that immigrants might actually move here (and, oh my God, pay taxes!).  Scared that Hispanics might vote democrat.  Scared that the melting pot of America might actually become a melting pot.  Scared that our social services and schools will be stretched to their limits.

I pity you.  How horrible life must be to be scared all the time.  To experience fear when a leader with true strength would experience opportunity.

Why opportunity? Do you know why immigrants are crossing into the U.S.?  To work!  To support the American businesses and farmers because there is a shortage of labor in our country.  To create a better life for themselves.  How is this not our goal as Americans?

Do you know what would reduce illegal immigration?  According to the Mexican Migration Project, a research study that has been going on for more than 30 years, one solution is to take away the walls!  Let people come in, register them, and, more importantly, let them go home, so that they can visit their families without worrying whether they would ever be able to come back.  Your belief that “millions will overrun us” is fear-mongering.  Again, only someone totally insecure with him or herself would resort to such a tactic.

You, Mr. President, are a weak one-trick pony, a side-show on our country’s stage that will soon be over.  You will be a mere footnote in a great history which will ultimately see more immigrants being welcomed to and supported in our country, which will not only reduce these atrocities, but strengthen our economy and our reputation around the world.  Future generations will have no time for your bigotry or hate.  Instead, we will turn our attention to solving our greatest problems like climate change rather than manufactured ones like what you are doing on the Mexico border.

So, so weak Mr. President.  In fact, I think you are pathetically weak.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

P.S. We do know about the executive order. But you are still weak, and children are still in detention centers separated from their parents. Because of you.

Day 509 – Letter to Attorney General Sessions: Why Would You Want to Deny Asylum To Those Who Are in Such Danger?

Day 509 – Letter to Attorney General Sessions: Why Would You Want to Deny Asylum To Those Who Are in Such Danger?

Image from Slate

Attorney General Sessions,

I am writing you today as an American, a citizen, a woman, and a Christian. I will admit that I am also writing from a position of an individual who was not been terribly fond of your ideas and proposed policies. Yesterday’s announcement that you are attempting to unilaterally make decisions regarding asylum seekers is perhaps my least favorite, as it really targets vulnerable women and children. When you make a statement that people attempting to flee domestic violence will no longer be considered for asylum, what gender and age(s) of people do you think this will impact the most? This doesn’t even include people from both genders and all ages who may be fleeing life-threatening gang violence, who you apparently would like to bar from even having an option to come to the USA as well. You love to cite statistics, but people are not numbers; they are individuals with names and with tragic stories and circumstances.

In 2012, I had the opportunity to visit Mazatlan, Mexico, on a mission trip with a Christian organization that has a goal of meeting the needs of some of our most vulnerable global citizens.  This group is based in our country, but extends its reach beyond our borders to help care for the world’s orphans. There are sites throughout the world where these missionaries come alongside existing orphanages and do whatever they can to meet the needs of the children that reside there.

I visited and worked at three orphanages in Mazatlan, but I would like to tell you about one of the homes in particular. This orphanage was more of a foster home, as its residents were not being forced to stay; they were seeking asylum. This home was available to girls who were attempting to escape the sex trade and/or physical and sexual abuse at the hands acquaintances to, or members of their families. There were usually around a dozen girls at a time, and the home was run by a single woman who just wanted to keep them safe and loved. Occasionally, members of their families might attempt to visit and/or convince them to leave the care they were receiving. Some would go, and then come back. It was always their choice. There were far too many other criminal concerns in Mazatlan that impeded any real action from being taken. One middle-aged woman, and a small team of volunteers from the missionary organization, were their only solace.

There was Maria, who was about 9 years-old. She was feisty, funny, and full of energy. Xochel was about 13, and was generally shy, but had an easy smile and loved to draw. Isabel was approaching her quinceanera, and liked to talk about the home’s plans for her celebration any chance she got. These girls were lovely; and they were hurting. One of the jobs we had while on the property was to build a side of a balcony on the house to be taller, as one of the girls had attempted to jump off it and commit suicide.

When these girls turn 18, they have to make their own decisions about their lives. They do not have safe homes to go to and essentially have to forge out on their own. The missionary organization attempts to help fund their educations so they can attend college. Some of them have a dream of moving away from a city and country that holds too much pain for them and would love to come here to go to school or work.

The Bible is filled with examples of Christ’s teachings surrounding loving one another, and specifically mentions orphans, aliens, and other groups that you would like to so easily cast aside. Malachi 3:5 states, ““Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me,” says the Lord of hosts.” There are dozens of quotes such as this, but I am leaving you with Jeremiah 5:28, as, sadly, I feel it is representative of our current administration: “They have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy.”

You are directly contradicting God’s word, disregarding those who need us most, and are doing so in the name of political rhetoric. Is this the legacy you want to leave?

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 492 – Letter to the American People: Her Name Was Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez. And We Killed Her.

Day 492 – Letter to the American People: Her Name Was Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez. And We Killed Her.

Dear Americans,

Lately, before going to bed, my daughter, who is 10, has been requesting  I read to her from this book we own called, “Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents” by Sarah Conover. After reading these stories together we always take away the glow of love and compassion throughout the night. Last night, after tucking her in, I did some of my own reading and found a news story, so opposite from kindness, so lacking in compassion that it shook me to my core. The news story I am referring to begins with a young woman, her name was Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, and she was a Maya-Mam indigenous 20-year-old from Guatemala. In 2016, she graduated from a program in forensic accounting in her country. Unfortunately, there are no jobs, no prospects for a better future where she lived and she wanted a better future for herself. She chose to try her luck at taking a 1,200-mile journey to the U.S. to try and get an education. Two weeks ago she left her family, among them, her mother, Nidia Gonzalez, and her father, Gilberto Gómez, to come to the U.S. in hopes of securing work to fund her education. This past Wednesday, as she crossed into the U.S. border town of Laredo, Texas, unarmed, she was shot in the head by border patrol and died almost immediately. There was a video that’s been going viral showing the aftermath of the shooting filmed by a bystander and what shook me to my core was not only the nonchalant attitude of the patrol officers after having shot another human being dead but the comments that followed the articles, no matter which news agency covered it. They  were terrifying and immensely saddening.  Below are some samplings of these comments.

“WOOHOO, BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK”

“This news made my day.”

“Another one bites the dust.

Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez was a young woman, yes she was crossing the border illegally, but she was an innocent human being. My question to you: Is this what we have become? Murders? Has our self-righteousness become so large and blinding that we cannot see that we are killing innocent people? Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez was not armed, she was simply hiding. The border officer did claim she attacked him with a blunt object, yet, the eyewitnesses on site, who also filmed the aftermath, claim otherwise. Nonetheless, she did not deserve to be murdered.

As we move to try to solve this complex issue of patrolling our borders I hope we don’t forget our humanity. Sadly, we have a president that has condoned and even fomented hatred towards undocumented immigrants, yet, we as individuals could choose to not follow his lead.  We have a choice to make: to be silent and allow the murders to continue or to voice your opinions against excessive violence towards unarmed human beings. At the very, very least, border patrols should be outfitted with body cameras. There are no easy answers but we must make sure that indiscriminate murder of innocents is not part of any solution.

I look at the picture of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez and I see a petite woman with boundless determination. Think of all she has done in her young life. In 2 weeks she traveled, who knows how, 1,200 miles to follow her dreams. The amount of bravery and grit it took to make that trip we will never know. I just know that had I met her somewhere I would have very much loved to hear all about her adventure to the U.S. She did not deserve to be killed like some monster. We owe it to her and other countless innocent undocumented immigrants to find a humane solution, one that keeps our own humanity intact.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 477 – Letter to Republican Lawmakers: Forced Labor for Immigrant Detainees and Lost Immigrant Children. Way to Make America Inhumane Again.

Day 477 – Letter to Republican Lawmakers: Forced Labor for Immigrant Detainees and Lost Immigrant Children. Way to Make America Inhumane Again.

Image from New York Times

Dear Republican Lawmakers,

You are aiding and abetting a monstrous variety of inhumane policies.

Let’s start with immigrant detainees, forced to work for $1 a day by private prisons such as the GEO Group and CoreCivic. These are human beings convicted of no crime, coerced to work for pennies an hour so that companies can line their pockets with the $160 a day our government pays them to house these detainees. And eighteen Republican lawmakers have gone out of their way to stamp their approval on this policy.

Jeff Sessions promises more of the same, with the added inhumanity of promising to separate children from their families if they are caught at the border. These children will be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, the department that recently admitted to losing track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it had placed with sponsors. We know of one case two years ago where HHS placed migrant children with “sponsors” who turned out to be human traffickers, and they still have not put in place new guidelines to prevent this from happening.

So this is who we are as a nation. We take adults who cross our borders and treat them as slaves without even bothering to prosecute them. If they have children, we take them away and don’t even have the due diligence to make sure they end up with relatives or responsible adults as opposed to human traffickers.

Perhaps before you throw your support behind stricter enforcement of a border that is already seeing fewer illegal crossings than in recent years, you should make sure that we are treating people humanely.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

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