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Monday, May 07, 2007Do you remember a month or so ago when I wrote about the raid of the factory in New Bedford and the illegal immigrants that were arrested and shipped off to Texas to await hearings, many being forced to leave young children behind without having any idea who was going to care for them?
There's a new clip that's been released to YouTube by the New Bedford Relief that you need to take ten minutes out of your life to watch. (Hat tip to Vox at the Women of Color Blog.)
The clip features a compelling interview of one of the women that was arrested during the raid and parts of it will just turn your stomach.
The woman talks about the raid and all of them being swept up and carted off. She explains that she told them that she had a six year old daughter with health problems and no one to watch her. She was told that she'd be given the chance to talk to a lawyer, but when the lawyers came, she wasn't allowed to see them. In fact, as she asked repeatedly, the people watching her became more and more agitated and yelled at her that if she REALLY had a need to see a lawyer, she already would have seen one.
While she did eventually get to speak with someone (though it never notes what ended up happening) it's some of the other parts of the story, specifically the treatment of the breastfeeding moms that's going to get your tail in a knot.
Here's a quote from the clip...
The truth is, they did treat us badly...because some of the women who had young children, who breastfed, I saw because I was near them, they even made them take the milk from their breasts to see if it was true that they had young children. They had almost all of them take milk from their breasts. They even made fun of them. They said - one of them told another to pass an oreo cookie to eat with milk, that they were milking the cows. We were in the next room listening, and the women were crying.
Did you catch that?
The moms that claimed to be nursing mothers had to express milk to prove it.
In front of the workers.
While being made fun of. (And not your garden variety, oh, milk is funny, I'm a jerk, but degrading, humiliating treatment.)
Besides, does a test like this mean that moms of young children or babies that don't breastfeed don't get to be reunited with them? So what if you don't have milk, that doesn't mean you don't have a baby and that that baby doesn't have every bit as much of a right to be with it's mother as the breastfed one does.
So having watched the full video, here are my reactions. (And you'll note that in my first post on the subject I said I was going to stay out of the politics on it, but having now seen this I really do feel a need to delve a little deeper.)
First, let me expand a little on my own thoughts on immigration. (To note, yes, I am a registered Republican, though I lean more toward being a Libertarian...but this is an issue where my views differ from my political party.)
I think our national policies suck. In fact, I think they are abhorrent. I think that the government has put in place a system of travesty that says one thing while doing another. The government says that they need to tighten the borders, control immigration levels and keep all these illegal immigrants out of the country. That's fine and dandy, if they were actually DOING it, but instead, little is done to stop the flow of people into this country. Why?
Because both the government and businesses benefit from these resources. Businesses get cheap labor and the government gets low-priced goods and more tax dollars. (Don't kid yourself, a LOT of illegal immigrants pay taxes, they just don't/can't file for returns.)
If I were in control? We'd have an absolute border lock-down until we got things under control and got a system in place that would integrate these people (and future immigrants) into society. Get them in the system, get them paying taxes and let the country grow. Immigration is what made this country what it is. The attitude of "well, we've got all the folks we need/want, you can't come in" just ticks me off.
(And I was astounded during my trip to Ellis Island last month to see that the political cartoons and editorials of the 30's and 40's when there was a movement to halt immigration could be printed today without any editing at all. It's the exact same argument and the exact same sentiment. Only the skin color and country of origin are different.)
Anyway, there are lots of other details on how I would want to see things change to account for issues like taxing the public aid system, health care, etc... but this is not a political blog, so let's just leave it at "I firmly believe that we should have Fort Knox borders with a system that allows for easy, legal entry."
So with all of that said, what's my reaction to this piece?
I find it appalling. Absolutely appalling.
Now let's be clear, I don't have a problem with people that are currently here illegally being "rounded up" (I hate that phrase) and deported back to their own country. We DO have laws in place and even if we don't like them, we have to work with them while changing them. (Just like how you can't be arrested for nursing in public but in most states you can be arrested for trespassing if they ask you to leave and you refuse.)
But even if you are going to arrest and deport these immigrants there is not a single excuse in the entire WORLD to treat them so poorly.
I was talking to my husband about it this morning and he pointed out that as illegal immigrants, they have no legal recourse when their rights are violated. Thus, those who seek power and control over others have "free reign" to get their jollies.
He's right. It takes a VERY small person to decide that a human being does not deserve respect.
Yes, these people are breaking the law and yes, there are consequences for that (until policy changes) but these are not criminals that have hurt anyone. They're not rapists, murderers or even thieves. They're people trying to better their life and hoping that they can blend in without being noticed.
They're mothers and and sisters and daughters and their primary goal is to provide for their family.
It's a shame that in this country, that's a crime.
After all, how many of us would be here if Ms. Liberty's sign read "Give us your western European, highly educated, motivated masses..." instead of "give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free..."
I wouldn't. Granted, my family has been here since the late 1700s, but they came over on ships hoping for a new life in a new land that offered opportunity to those who were willing to work.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? 'Cept there was no "border patrol" when my family arrived.
So to reiterate, I have no problem with these women being detained and extradited...but ONLY if their children are kept with them. There's also ZERO excuse for them being treated this way. It's further proof that our government needs to be massively overhauled. That people in power (I'm not talking about Democrats or Republicans, quite frankly, I think they're all rotten) need to be tossed out on their rears and new people brought in.
That's a lot to take in...what do we do with it?
Well, I don't know about you, but I say we react. I say that we make sure that this video gets out and that people hear about how these people were treated. Abu Ghraib made national news because we were treating terrorists (and suspected terrorists) abhorrently.
This time the receiving end's only crime is wanting to live in a country that doesn't want them. Illegal? Yes. Is that an excuse for their treatment? NO!
Write your senators, your congressmen...write to Ellen, Oprah, the Today Show, Fox News, ABC News, 20/20, Glenn Beck, NPR, Good Morning America, John Stossle, anyone you can think of. Forward this video to your friends, put it on your blog, send it as a MySpace Bulletin.
Spread the word.
It doesn't matter if you believe in amnesty for all illegal aliens or if you think they should all be shipped home, it only matters that no human should be treated this way and that no child should be forcibly separated from their mother simply because a government official won't wait a stinkin' day or two to figure out the situation.
I'll be sending this out on the lactivist email lists that I belong to and will be spreading the word on message boards and a few other places.
Watch the full video for yourself.
Make sure that you watch all the way to the end. Note that they'd taken all of their belongings (leaving them with no way to buy phone cards to contact family and even let them know where they were) and then asked if any of the women would like to work to earn some money while they were being detained.
Seven of them raised their hands and then spent two hours scrubbing, mopping, washing windows and cleaning the bathroom. They were paid a dollar.
A dollar. For two hours work.
Nothing like adding insult to injury, eh?
If we get enough views of this video on YouTube, it will push it to the front page and it will stand a much better chance of garnering some national media attention. So send it to breastfeeding groups, but also send it to mothering groups, parenting groups, political groups...anyone that agrees that humans have basic human right that should be respected.