Organizing In The Trump Era: Confronting “The Specter Of A Massive Deportation Campaign”
In a major address last November, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy observed that “during the past months the specter of a massive deportation campaign aimed at ripping more than ten million undocumented immigrants from their lives and families has realistically emerged as potential federal policy.”
One thing that’s clear from the deportation yesterday of Guadalupe García de Rayos is that it’s no longer “potential federal policy“; it’s actual policy.
García is a 35 year old married mother of two teenagers (both US citizens) who had lived in the US for the past 21 years. Since getting caught in 2008 using a fake Social Security card (apparently her only crime) to get a job, she’s reported annually to the local ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) office. When she showed up there yesterday morning (after going to morning Mass) she was arrested, separated from her lawyer, and deported, despite the efforts of her family and the organized nonviolent support of Puente, a Phoenix-based migrant justice organization.
Bishop McElroy was about as unequivocally clear as Catholic bishops get when he talked about Trump’s plans:
“We must label this policy proposal for what it is – an act of injustice which would stain our national honor in the same manner as the progressive dispossessions of the Native American peoples of the United States and the internment of the Japanese.
For us, as the Catholic community of the United States, it is unthinkable that we will stand by while more than ten percent of our flock is ripped from our midst and deported. It is equally unthinkable that we as Church will witness the destruction of our historic national outreach to refugees at a time when the need to offer safe haven to refugees is growing throughout the world.” (emphasis added)
Among other things, García’s deportation confronts the US Catholic Church with the question: if it truly is “unthinkable” to stand by while the Trump administration deports millions and locks out refugees fleeing war, starvation, and persecution, then what is the Church—not just Bishop McElroy and his brother bishops, but also the tens of thousands of priests and nuns, and tens of millions of lay members—going to do?