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The recent arrest of Concepción and Margarito Silva's at Fort Drum should shock us all, and question the current ICE practices of the Trump Administration.
What did they do? The came to Fort Drum to celebrate July 4th with their son-in-law, an active duty Marine, and their pregnant daughter. They presented NYC government issued I.D. cards for entry. Fr. Drum asked for another form of I.D., as the NYC I.D. card is often used by undocumented aliens, recent prison parolees, and others who have difficulty finding an honest government i.d. document. According to an Army spokesperson, the NYCID card does not have a scannable barcode that provides the guard with a photo to check against the person holding the card.
There is no question that the i.d. was a lawful, accurate identification document. But for some reason, Fr. Drum went further. So they showed their Mexican Passports, which did not have a legal entry stamp or visa to the U.S. But the Passports would have verified the identity found on the ID card, which the spokesman says was the concern. Instead, ICE was called, the couple was arrested, and they remain imprisoned in Brooklyn awaiting a hearing and probably deportation. Their U.S. citizen daughter and marine son-in-law will have to raise their baby without hardworking grandparents who have been peacefully working in this country for 20 years, because they were stupid enough to think that celebrating America's Independence day at a military base with their family was a good thing to do.
This seems to be a U.S. Army mandate now, as it is not the first time an undocumented immigrant has been taken into custody after presenting their IDNYC card. New York resident Pablo Villavicencio was detained while delivering a pizza to the Hamilton army base in New York City last month, after presenting his identification card at the gate.
Is this what we have come to? Hard working, honest people working 7 days a week to raise a family are being challenged without probable cause because they are using a completely legal and accurate NYCID card.
In this way we can normalize the document's use, so that people acting in the honest light of day do not need to suffer in this way. Let the people live and work.
In the meantime, yes - I do believe in legal immigration, and I do not want people, including children, crossing the river on our southern border. The death of children in the water and the dessert has not been sufficiently covered in the news. We should not have a system that encourages and rewards people to come across in that way. Genuine asylum seekers should be welcomed at the ports of entry of the U.S. and a serious system of justice must be afforded them. And I do believe in a much larger immigration system than we currently have, including a path to citizenship for those like the Silva family. I do not believe in open immigration, and I do believe in strong borders.
The recipe is clear. Broader acceptance of legal immigrants, strong enforcement of our borders, a path to citizenship for those who are here, and a process of dignity justice and mercy for those who seek asylum.
There must be an open door of mercy, and a reasonable process of justice.