Caring for others

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If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America.”

  • Robert F. Kennedy, 1968

Today in Trump’s America, we are dealing with great challenges at home and abroad with the ominous threat of a worldwide nuclear war. For over a year Trump has deceived our nation and the world with repeated messages of despair and promises of greatness. Fifty years ago, RFK warned America against Trump’s ideology – do as I say, or else.

“To be honest, I inherited a mess.” “It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess.” “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words,” Trump said in January 2017.

“Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 1twelve months. Lowest female unemployment in eighteen years!” Trump said in January 2018.

In this context of confusion and division, the U.S. government shut down for the weekend. The Senate is trying to get something done trading bills they don’t like for others they must have, an ineffective political process based on power and intimidation. Welcome to Trump’s world. Let’s dig in.

Crossing the line is a two-way street

More than one million Americans are living the life in San Miguel Allende, Puerto Vallarta, and many other cities south of the border. More than 80 percent are undocumented, they came to visit and decided to stay. Americans are welcomed and treated as friends. They own property in the best communities, have easy access to high-quality medical care, and don’t have to speak like the natives, “otra cerveza, donde está el baño, más rápido, ándale, ándale,” is all they need.

The truth about the Wall

“The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it,” says Trump. The congressional debate is mostly about the cost of the wall. Democrats oppose wasting $18 billion and Republicans try to please Trump. The fact U.S. taxpayers would pay for the project is no longer mentioned, a major change Trump now chooses to ignore.

Trump has never walked along the border and has no idea how it works. It is not a porous barrier; there are multiple checkpoints on the roads and airports nearby. The border is like the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea. More than 21,000 US Border Patrol (USBP) agents, heavily armed, provide around-the-clock enforcement. The Rio Grande, a 2,000-mile long river, and a heavy metal fence divide the two nations. Several international bridges give access to people and products flowing north and south.

The border is a dangerous place

A mix of people from Latin America, traversing Mexico, look for the land of opportunity. Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, 500 miles long, is the U.S. first line of defense. Some are climate refugees; each family has a unique story. Many die on the way, some hunted down by right-wing U.S. militia groups working with the USBP. Corruption and excessive use of force by USBP is common. A 2012 PBS report “Crossing the Line,” profiled the case of Hernández-Rojas killed while in custody of the USBP.

The price we pay

Trump’s orders restricting immigration, his hateful comments, and the unrest in cities marching for justice and equality, have damaged America’s reputation as a safe, desirable tourist destination.

A 2016 study from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy found $12 billion each year paid by undocumented immigrants to state and local taxes. Trump has triggered a culture of cruelty and inequality. Caring deeply for others is the only answer to hate.

Dr. Luis Contreras

9 COMMENTS

  1. UPDATE: The cost of building the Wall just went up. It is now $25 Billion to be paid by Americans.

    Details are not available on why we need to spend $7 Billion more, days after Trump said he could build it cheaper and faster.

    Thw Trump Wall is a red herring, part of the show to keep your attention away from the “easy to launch nuclear weapons” Trump wants to use. “Why do we have nuclear warheads if I can’t use them?” Trump has asked repeatedly. Trump’s new warheads would kill millions of people, but would not trigger a NUCLEAR WINTER. Details next week.

    For Mexico, and the rest of the world, Trump’s Wall is a monument to GOP’s racist behavior.

    When Trump went to Mexico during his campaign, Trump begged Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s President, not to mention the Wall during their public conference. Trump said he made a promise to his base Mexico would pay for the Wall, and Trump could not afford to lose face.

    Unfortunately, Nieto went along with Trump’s request. Nieto paid a high price and betrayed a great Nation, and the Mexican economy paid a high price,

    Building bridges promotes trade and friendship between neighbors.

    Building Walls creates hate – insulting a proud friendly Nation only because they are not Norewgians.

  2. Kindness and compassion create security. Hate and discrimination create fear.

    US Senator Tom Cotton and Congressman Steve Womack view Walls and Deportation, and harsh law enforcement as solutions to migration. They ignore the benefits of a skilled workforce paying billions in taxes and even social security (without benefits) and the lost tourist revenues from tourists chosing better, safe destinations.

    The arbitrary use of force and new laws giving power and funds is not a sustainable solution. The result is excalation of fear and testosterone-driven measures. The world is watching and the spiral of fear grows out of control.

    Border Patrol, right-wing militias, ICE, and DOJ are the tools used to solvethe wrong problem, from cllimate refugees and extreme climate events.

    Caring for others opens better thinking

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/01/24/justice-department-threatens-sanctuary-cities-subpoenas-escalating-trumps-immigration-enforcement-ca/1061225001/

  3. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is an agency of Homeland Security … their jurisdiction is anywhere in the US except for 30 miles near the border, where the US Border Patrol rules.

    New immigration rules do NOT protect US Residents with a permanent “green card.” Trump said he would deport millions. Now ICE is in the spotlight. Trump is uniformed, again, and chooses hate over compassion.

    January 22, 2018 — Lukasz Niec was 5 years old when his parents brought him and his sister to the United States from Poland.

    With two suitcases in tow, his parents — both doctors — left behind a country on the verge of social turmoil. It was 1979, about two years before the country’s authoritarian communist government declared martial law.

    Niec received a temporary green card and, in 1989, became a lawful permanent resident. He grew up in Michigan, went to medical school, became a doctor, and raised a daughter and stepdaughter.

    Niec, now 43, never fathomed that his legal status in the United States would become an issue. With a renewed green card, and nearly 40 years in the country, his Polish nationality was an afterthought for Niec, his sister told The Washington Post. He doesn’t even speak Polish.

    But on Tuesday morning, immigration authorities arrested Niec at his home, just after he had sent his 12-year-old stepdaughter off to school.

    Niec, a physician specializing in internal medicine at Bronson Healthcare Group in Kalamazoo, Mich., has been detained in a county jail ever since, awaiting a bond hearing and possible deportation.

    “It’s shocking,” said his sister Iwona Niec Villaire, a corporate lawyer. “No one can really understand what happened here.”

    According to his “notice to appear” from the Department of Homeland Security, Niec’s detention stems from two misdemeanor convictions from 26 years ago. In January 1992, Niec was convicted of malicious destruction of property under $100. In April of that year, he was convicted of receiving and concealing stolen property over $100 and a financial transaction device.

    Because Niec was convicted of two crimes involving “moral turpitude,” stemming from two separate incidents, he is subject to removal, immigration authorities wrote in the notice to appear, citing the Immigration and Nationality Act. Both of the offenses took place when he was a teenager. He associated himself “with some bad people” his sister said. The first of the incidents involved an altercation with a driver after a car crash, Niec’s sister said. He was one of multiple teenagers in the car at the time.

    The second of those convictions was eventually expunged from his criminal record, his sister said, as part of a guilty plea through Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, a program intended to help young offenders avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction. But even though the crime was scrubbed off his public record, it can still be used against him for removal from the country, his sister said.

    ICE has not responded to requests for information from The Washington Post and declined to comment to WOOD-TV. Since Thursday, a spokesman for the ICE Detroit Field Office has not responded to requests for information from MLive, except to say he was looking into the case.

    The White House said they are focused on deporting undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to this country,” but advocates say undocumented immigrants are not threats.

    Niec’s record has multiple blemishes. But his wife insists that he is not a risk to the public. When he renewed his permanent green card a few years ago, he was given a “false sense of security,” that it would be enough, she said.

    Over the decades, tens of thousands of legal residents have been deported for relatively minor offenses. But under previous administrations, immigration authorities have often let low-level offenders off the hook, prioritizing the deportations of violent criminals. A memo from the Obama administration in 2011 directed immigration officials to look at a number of factors, such as familial relationships with U.S. citizens, criminal history, education and contributions to the community, in deciding whether arrests and prosecution are warranted, as The Post’s Kristine Phillips reported.

    But the Trump administration has issued sweeping new guidelines expanding the range of immigrants that count as high priority for deportation, including low-level offenders, and those with no criminal record — regardless of how long they have lived in the country.

    Now, immigrants feel the threat of deportation more than ever, advocates say, whether they are residing here legally or not.

    Villaire, the doctor’s sister, said she previously felt as though green-card holders were “like anybody else.” She was a green-card holder until she successfully applied for citizenship during law school, she said.

    “You couldn’t vote, but that was really the only difference,” she said. “That’s not the case anymore. . . . Having that status is no longer enough.”

    Lucasz Niec had been considering applying for citizenship, particularly after his July 2016 marriage to his current wife, Rachelle Burkart-Niec, who is an American citizen, she told The Post. But with both of their demanding schedules, they had not gotten around to it yet, she said.

    Lucasz Niec has been a doctor for more than a decade. He treats patients at three different Bronson hospitals, and is responsible for scheduling all physicians in his group, covering about five hospitals in the area, his wife said. He was picked up by immigration officials on his first day off after working a week straight, including several double shifts.

    His wife was working her shift as a charge nurse at a Bronson hospital Tuesday morning when she received the phone call from her husband, saying he had been arrested by immigration officers. She was so taken aback that she thought he was pulling a prank on her, she said.

    Now, after nearly a week in jail, Lucasz Niec has yet to see a judge, and his family says he has received no information from immigration authorities since the day of his arrest.

    “He is needed in the hospital,” his wife said. Hospitals in the area are packed full, she said, in part because of the widespread influenza. The Kalamazoo area has seen an increase in flu cases in recent weeks, in numbers well above the four-year average, according to the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department.

    A number of his hospital colleagues have written letters to an immigration judge, rallying support for Niec, MLive reported.

    “The consensus about his character is overwhelming with no single complaint I have ever heard from anyone over 10 years,” Kwsai Al-Rahhal, M.D. wrote, according to MLive. “He is loving, caring and respectful.”

    Another colleague, Jose Angelo L. De Leon, M.D., wrote about how Niec often stepped up to take on extra hours due to staff shortages.

    “I cannot say enough about his work ethic and his service to our community,” De Leon wrote.

    Villaire said she is hiring a lawyer for her brother, and is hoping Michigan’s governor considers pardoning his misdemeanor offenses. She is also seeking other avenues by digging through her family’s archives.

    For example, Villaire knows her mother became a naturalized citizen, but she is not sure when. If she was granted citizenship before Lucasz Niec turned 18, he may already be a citizen by default, Villaire said. But both their mother and father are now deceased, and some crucial documents are missing in the archives they left behind with their children.

    Deporting Lucasz Niec would mean sending him to a country and culture completely foreign to him, his sister said. He has been back to Poland once, as a teenager, she said. He has maintained no relationships with family or friends there and has never felt much of a connection to his Polish heritage, his sister said, adding that her brother is “as American as anyone gets.”

    “He can’t be deported,” his wife said. “He can’t speak Polish. He wouldn’t know where to go. He would be lost.”

  4. Here is the second PBS lost video: Crossing the line, part 2
    In the rush to stem the tide of undocumented immigrants, has Border Patrol committed widespread abuse on American soil? A former Border Patrol agent blows the whistle on unacceptable conditions in detention centers, including massive over-crowding and detainees who claim they were deprived of food and water.

    This groundbreaking report has been produced with assistance from the Nation Institute and the Investigative News Network.

    On Friday, July 20, Need to Know will air our second investigation into alleged abuses by U.S. Border Patrol agents. Correspondent John Larson investigates stories of physical abuse, sexual assault and even torture.

    Read: Renewed call for inquiry into border abuses

    Web extra: Interview with Andrea Guerrero
    Need to Know’s report on the circumstances surrounding the death of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, an undocumented worker living in San Diego, has led to a federal grand jury probe.

    PDF: Members of Congress demand investigation

  5. The PBS reports on the border crimes, are conveniently not available. Here is what you would have seen

    Crossing the line, part 1
    The show’s first report on the subject aired in April and sparked a federal grand jury probe. In partnership with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute, Need to Know investigates whether U.S. border agents have been using excessive force in an effort to curb illegal immigration.

    Crossing the line, part 1 update
    One week after our initial broadcast, we took another look at the story of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas. Plus, an interview with Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva, who tells us that members of congress have inquired about his case before, but had heard nothing from the Justice Department.

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