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Local Immigration Policy is Based on Individual Safety

  • Written by David B. Clark
Living in Trump’s America was proceeded with a largely hyperbolic promise of the building of a massive wall stretching across the US/Mexico border. Many thought this was a laughable solution to a problem that is layered in the bedrock of the American Dream, freedom, and happiness. Now what seemed farfetched is gaining momentum. Immigration is a very complex issue that cannot be solved or stopped by erecting a backstop between us and our neighbor to the south. The rise that some U.S. citizens feel when the number of just how many of their good, red-white-and-blue blooded American dollars stack to help fund someone that does not have legal authority to be on U.S. soil is justified. Justification insofar as only their personal experience. The safety and security of any person remains paramount regardless of their immigration status.
 
Bothell’s Chief of Police, Carol Cummings, stated, “All people in Bothell need to be free to report crimes without fear of having to disclose their immigration status,” she continued, “The City of Bothell should be a place where anyone is safe to report a crime, to report being a victim of a crime, to be able to be a good witness and report what they have seen.  We want to reduce the risk of criminals specifically targeting people due to their immigration status by ensuring that everybody knows they are safe when they call the police for help.” Chief of Police Cummings shared Bothell Police Department’s policy 714 on immigration which details her above ethics and sentiments. Among many of the subpoints in this policy is, “No person shall be physically arrested and/or booked by a Bothell Police officer for the sole purpose of determining their legal status in the country.”
 
On Monday, January 8, word spread that the Trump Administration will terminate Temporary Protected status for more than 200,000 people from El Salvador which will nullify their work permits and subject them to deportation. “Men and women who came to the U.S. fleeing Central America’s Northern Triangle—Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala—often got sent back to face the very harms they’d sought to escape,” writes Sarah Stillman for The New Yorker. She and a team of over 12 graduate students from Columbia University’s Journalism school began the task of creating a database of deaths by deportation. Additionally, the team spoke with men, women, and children that had faced other issues due to deportation: torture, sexual assault, and kidnapping, among others. 
 
It is important to understand the distinction between the Bothell Police Department’s definition of a refugee, “…anybody who is incapable or reluctant to go back to his or her country of nationality due to fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a unique social group, or political views,” and others that are seeking asylum. While refugees from Syria are facing persecution for their beliefs, individuals    from  Mexico  or  Central  America  could  be   facing the litany of death threats, potentials of gang violence, and the promise of the return to the tortured world they briefly escaped. Nevertheless, the distinction is only important for a broader understanding of a personal plight. Being illegal is illegal; as silly as that sounds.
 
Understanding that life, liberty, and happiness are widespread and not the mandate of official United States paperwork is growing. Bothell’s Police Department takes priority in serving and protecting their citizens by offering the kind of information that they have. We here at The Woodinville Weekly are very thankful for Police Chief Carol Cummings.
 
The dichotomy of our borders and our unity with one another will continue. Progress tied with policy is an effective way to handle these ever-present concerns. The final four lines in James Galvin’s poem, Cartography, seem to frame this, “When the map is complete the page will be completely / Obscured by detail, then a third howl. / Three things about the border are known: / It’s real, it doesn’t exist, it’s on all the black maps.”

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