On Sunday, Sept. 29, The Daily Mississippian published an opinion column by Lauren Moses titled, “ICE raids are a legitimate solution to illegal immigration.” This column, which necessitates a view of immigrants as the other, is not only ill-situated in a historical context, but also contributes to the already constant marginalization of those living in the country illegally. This type of rhetoric puts people in danger.
Immigration is something that humans have always done. It is, however, rarely done for no reason. The next time you see a “Made in Mexico” sticker, think about the labor that went into producing that item, what type of compensation that laborer was given and who is in control of deciding their compensation. Ask questions. Why is there an influx of Central Americans coming to the United States at the same time? What has been the role of the United States in creating and maintaining this situation?
In the days immediately following the ICE raids, immigrant communities started organizing themselves. Incredible organizers and community leaders from across the Southeast bound together to share resources, provide legal counsel and build a more just society. During those days, I had the opportunity to listen to an indigenous Guatemalan woman speak about the similarities between colonial violence and ICE raids: A person with weapons comes to the place you live. The colonizer or ICE agent makes demands and threatens your way of life if you do not comply. Importantly, in their times, both are considered lawful by the people in power. Not only must we acknowledge that laws are not usually made in the interest of all people, we must also take responsibility to fight for a world in which they are.
In our global economy, almost everything is interconnected. We are global citizens whose actions have an effect all over the world. We wear clothes, eat food and use things that were created in various countries. As global citizens, we have a moral imperative to think critically, speak intentionally and act justly in favor of all human beings and the Earth. Indigenous communities have been leading the way in doing this for centuries.
Thinking critically, in these times, is a form of resistance. We live in a country that is continuing its legacy of acting violently in the name of promoting “lawfulness.” ICE raids, which are physically, emotionally and economically violent are not a standard of true justice for anyone. Calling these raids “a necessary process” is violent in and of itself. However, we do have agency to change our speech, to change our actions and to change this reality.
Each of us is endowed with power to shape the world we live in, and no historical “moment” is only a moment. Histories are reflections of the ways that people throughout time chose to use their power. Some, like civil rights organizers, used their collective power to be a force for more justice and equity. Others, like the white people who resisted the integration of the Little Rock Nine, used their collective power to perpetuate injustice and violence. When you resist justice and equity for people who entered the country illegally, which side of history do you really think you are on?
Cam Calisch is a senior anthropology major from Pensacola, Florida.