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Equally poisoned

Gloria M. Sandoval  |  Issue: March 2016
flint water poisoning

Hundreds of people endured the cold and rain to protest against the poisoning of the children and people of Flint, and to bring criminal charges against Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan. | Sarah Truesdail, a resident of Flint, huggs her daughter, Gabriela Venegas; who cries when the health officer pricks her finger to check for lead poisoning.


“In interviews with Fusion-http://digiday.com/publishers/fusion-distributed-news-team/ (Casey Iolan, January 25, 2016) a half dozen undocumented people said that either they’ve been turned away from free water or are worried that they’ll be deported if they try to get help.  Some who don’t speak English only learned about the problems with the water in the last few days, and have been drinking contaminated tap water for months.”

Other reports mentioned only wanting to keep record of where the cases of water were going to and NOT to detect who were the undocumented. But word spread that social security numbers, driver’s licenses or ID’s were being required. The word spread quickly, and volunteers going door-to-door were met with suspicion.  After all, ICE had been known to have recently made its appearance in arresting undocumented people.  Local churches and immigrant advocates began to educate and get cases of water to the undocumented.  For those not having command of the English language and without Spanish radio or TV stations, there appears to have been a lag in getting the information.

It is difficult to know which is scarier:  to be deported and have your family separated, or know that your children are being poisoned by the lead and other contaminants in Flint’s tap water.  Fear paralyzes, and this allows the responsible government officials to go scot-free.

All people living in Flint, whether U.S. citizens, undocumented, children or adults, poor or in jail have been equally affected by the contamination.  Standing together will ensure that all receive the help and future health services.  Unequal access to services will result in dividing the community and letting the culprits get away.  All residents of Flint are human beings and must be treated as such.

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