Immigration is the new wave of mass incarceration and we have to begin more consistently recognizing this in our work. Although the current “Free MI Kids” Campaign focus is kids in the justice system, this should fit into our broader vision for justice reform. Personally, I need to do a better job of this. Although it is apparent to focus on the disparate impact of the justice system on Blacks, especially in Memphis, the current violations of civil and human rights in Latino communities is a violation of human rights to all people whether they are American citizens, or not.
In many groups I’ve been in, the feeling among some folks when the idea of collectively addressing causes comes up is, “there goes yet another group putting their rights before us when we haven’t been recognized, when we haven’t gotten our due, when our communities hurt and when our blood/sweat/tears have paved the way for everyone else’s rights.” But the reality is, so many of our problems are the same.
Additionally, people of color and other diverse groups are in a battle for very fundamental rights at every level. NATIONALLY, statements of blatant disregard for human rights, health and all that illustrates any semblance of empathy are now hurled at at people as insults. The sobering thought of how far we have NOT come is literally painful.
Not to mention, so many of our problems REALLY are the same. Blacks AND Latinos are…
…disproportionately targeted by police
…more likely to be arrested
…more likely to be arrested on a non-violent drug crime although all races tend to use and distribute drugs in similar percentages
…more likely to be racially profiled in police stops, searches, arrests, and convictions
….more likely to enter the foster care system, (kids entering the foster care system enter the justice system at higher rates)
…more likely to have incarcerated parents
…more likely to be perceived by Americans as violent, and more deserving of stiff penalties, including death
…less likely to graduate from HS
We really could go on, but this could get depressing and just damn embarrassing.
So I post this ad nauseam rant in part from a place of conviction but also to reach out to see if someone would like to serve as a liaison to make immigration a part of our agenda? I think I speak for all in our group when I say we would like to support local Memphis efforts of our Latino brothers and sisters, but we also have to somehow know what’s going on, where our missions align. With the issue of immigration at the forefront nationally, we need someone consistently highlighting the importance of immigration policy in our discussions and raising when our causes should align. I worry that without the representation/view in the room, immigration issues won’t get the through consideration in our programming that they deserve.
If you know someone that might be interested in serving as out Immigration-Latino liaison, please pass this request along or drop a comment. A local story on the Memphis ICE raids appears here.
As Project MI’s Prison Outreach Coordinator Bridget Bowman Riley has noted, we must STAND with and for our Latino brothers and sisters in these turbulent times!
Please pass along these three instructive handouts on protecting families from ICE raids to anyone that might need them: