LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Let the cash registers ring!

LETTER TO THE EDITORImmigrants from all over the world who don’t have proper documents enter the U.S., or people with documents enter and overstay their visas. Why do they risk life and limb to come here? They seek a safer, more secure place to live—oftentimes escaping corruption, extortion, drugtrafficking, and gang activity in their home countries where jobs pay a pittance. They don’t make this move lightly. Very few want to come to the U.S. and leave their families and communities behind, but they’re desperate. There is no question that many of us, myself included, would do whatever we had to do to take care of our families and keep them safe.

How are the undocumented able to live in the U.S. for a median of 13+ years? U.S. employers hire them, usually fully aware that they are undocumented and paying far below minimum wage. Let the cash registers ring as profits increase.

After establishing roots in our communities, marrying, having children, starting businesses, attending churches and schools, we’re ready to throw them away, returning them to a place they often no longer know (if they ever did), where they often face the risk of physical harm, possibly even death.

But wait, there are more profits to be had. Mila Koumpilova’s StarTrib story on Oct. 11, 2017, “Minnesota County Jails do brisk business with immigration authorities,” demonstrates that Minnesota sheriffs’ coffers are getting filled as the immigrants are on their way out the door to be deported. Minnesota sheriffs charge the Feds a cool $1 million per month. Cha ching! According to the Strib story, these profits are helping pay off the costs of government center buildings, public safety radio systems, enterprise funds and who knows what else.

These people who are our maids, our restaurant cooks, our landscapers, our neighborhood business owners—our sisters and brothers—are our fellow human beings. This is who we’re talking about. If they have committed any criminal offense—though the majority of the 11+ million undocumented people in the U.S. have committed none—it is often related to alcohol, similar to the offenses committed by U.S. citizens, or traffic violations. ICE’s own statistics say that the undocumented commit far fewer crimes than Americans do.

Never mind that we are destroying families, separating fathers and mothers from spouses,children, relatives and communities. What would you say to the spouse and to their eight children whose dad will be deported after having spent 26 of his 33 years in the U.S.? They’ll likely never see each other again. Too many of us sleep soundly knowing that many parents will be deported after having lived the majority of their lives in the U.S., forced to leave their children behind.

What about the healthcare costs relating to the psychological harm that is heaped on these children and families by deportation? How do these costs compare to the profits made by the employers who take advantage of a labor force employed in jobs that Americans refuse to do?

The profiting by Minnesota counties and their jails under these circumstances is sickening.

There is a deep immorality in treating our fellow brothers and sisters in this way. All faith traditions call us to a life of respect, compassion and love of our neighbor. We cannot sit silently and allow the cash registers to ring and lives and families to be destroyed. I invite you to act. Contact me.

Daniel Romero
Minister for Faith Formation
First Congregational Church of Minnesota
(612) 331-3816 x 303
dromero@firstchurchmn.org

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