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EDITORIAL: Zero tolerance policy towards migrants and refugees, now it’s been proposed for the Homeless

From the Editors  |  Issue: January 2020
Amanda Fukamoto and Jamie Foberg

Amanda Fukamoto (left, with volunteer Jamie Foberg)
PHOTO: SCOTT WAGERS

 

Then they came for the migrant children and their parents, and I did not speak out –because I was not a migrant or a refugee. Then they came for me, a homeless U.S. citizen – and there was no one left to speak for me.

This passage, based on the famous quotation of the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller after World War II, sounds so eerily true today. In terms of immigration, 2019 was the year of children in cages, families separated, and thousands of immigrants and migrants locked in detention centers. This administration has closed the gates shut, because supposedly there’s “no room at the inn.”

In April 2018 the Trump administration enacted a “zero tolerance” policy against migrants and refugees from Central America. Fleeing state violence against the social unrest and hunger due to climate change that has dried up their once-fertile lands, thousands of our neighbors arrive only to find the gates of our nation shut and guarded at gunpoint.

This is no way to treat our neighbors. It’s not the democratic way. It’s not the moral way.

Now, a year later, the Trump administration advocates for its zero-tolerance policy against our own, the homeless. It proposes to round up homeless people – just as it did with undocumented immigrants and their children – and put then in concentration camps or banish them to the desert.

After complaining that homelessness is “disgusting” and reduces property values, Trump stated his intention to use police to raze tent cities and force homeless people into government facilities that are really concentration camps.

After decades of failing to house its people, the government is moving to declare zero tolerance against working people no longer needed by the tech economy.

It is a shocking sign of the times that we have to restate this fundamental truth: No human being is unworthy of life. When we defend homeless people, we are defending life itself. Now is the time for all people of conscience to speak out and act forcefully to block any attempt by the Trump administration to declare a zero-tolerance policy against any part of the population, whether homeless or undocumented.

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