My friend, an undocumented immigrant, was arrested for driving to work without a license he cannot legally obtain. With no public transportation available, he was risking his freedom, like millions of others, working to support his family AND paying taxes through taxpayer ID numbers, fake social security numbers, sales taxes and as a consumer of services which pay taxes, with no hope of ever receiving any government benefits.
He is one of the thousands of secondary victims of 9/11 suffering abrogation of the same civil and human rights upon which this country was founded when torture, extraordinary rendition, arrest, imprisonment, surveillance and harassment without judicial process became the standard of our government.
He is also one of the millions of victims of war profiteers who immediately saw the financial benefits of 9/11 and invested their billions in “anti-terrorist” industries and paraphernalia used to capture bus boys, maids and farm workders. And he is a victim of the voracious greed of those whose pillaging of private enterprise was not enough and are now privatizing government functions for profit, also.
He was arrested and detained with no regard for his civil rights and the due process which Americans used to hold as a sacred trust and was finally moved to the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.
One thing became very clear as I followed the path of my friend, Jesús, through the “system.”
Same-sex marriage is truly a basic human right which should not be left to individual states and voters to decide. Whether immigration officials are considering release, probation, a bond or deportation for arrestees, (or granting visas or residency to entrants), a legal marriage – that is, one’s permanent ties to the community – weighed heavily in that decision. If an official marriage matters for immigrants, it must matter for an entire array of other legal considerations as well.
Also on my mind during this time is the shocking hypocrisy of the Catholic bishops. What would this country be like if – instead of spending their billions and directing their vast army of agencies, including the ones they secretly control, on a “religious freedom” campaign to energize Republican voters by eradicating more freedoms for women and the LGBT population – they spent the same resources (not just lip service) on real liberty and human rights for immigrants, African-Americans, women, gays, the poor and the sick?
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