EDITOR IN CHIEF
Many of the current United States elected officials would like Americans to believe there is an immigration crisis. However, the emergency plaguing the country right now is a lack of humanity.
Detention centers filled with Latinx and Mexican children separated from their families have popped up like a pharmacy on every corner. According to the nonprofit Freedom For Immigrants, there are over 200 immigrant prisons and jails in the United States, while according to the PEW Research Center, 77 percent of immigrants have entered the country legally.
While undocumented immigrants should not be mercilessly punished for their pursuit of a better life, these statistics are extremely telling of a fake border crisis; one which President Trump has made up to justify his constant racist conduct.
As the news cycle spins and images of children weeping as they are ripped away from their parents are plastered on every corner of our social media feeds, most days, American people are left grasping at straws.
NE-02 Congressional candidate Kara Eastman is a breath of fresh air.
Eastman recently toured the El Paso and Las Cruces border with her brother (who is an interpreter for the federal court system), and on Aug. 9, hosted a community event called Bearing Witness, to present her experience of what she called “a conveyer belt of deportation” to Omaha voters.
Although she said she repeatedly attempted to visit a detainment center in the area, Eastman was only able to spend time at a handful of immigrant shelters. She said that every individual there had a story. For instance, a woman she met is a widow of an American citizen and was deported to Mexico. The only way for her to collect the social security benefits from her late husband is to come back to America and live in a shelter for a month.
“If you’re European, they’ll send you a check,” Eastman said. “That speaks volumes.”
Eastman also spoke of poor conditions in shelters with hundreds of beds and meager food supplies for the countless immigrants seeking asylum.
The most eye-opening event, Eastman said, was the day she spent in court alongside her brother.
“It was gut-wrenching,” Eastman said. “You see this sea of brown faces in orange jumpsuits and shackles going through deportation hearings. Over and over again they are asked ‘why did you come here?’ and everyone has a unique reason.”
She told stories of mothers crossing the border to see their children, to make enough money to feed their families, to escape violence and gangs.
“If I had to feed my family, if my daughter were in another place, if I was going to be killed by a gang, I would cross a border for that,” Eastman said. “By Trump, these people are portrayed as criminals, and for their families, they are heroes.”
Eastman listed simple solutions to the issues afflicting immigrants, explained the importance of essential labor in America’s economy and put in the work to develop loyal voters.
However, the thing that drove home her argument is that she was the only candidate or official in Nebraska doing this work.
“Any candidate running for office—especially for federal office—should demonstrate how they will be when they are in office,” Eastman said. “We have to be willing to see these things. They [current elected officials] only know how to suppress votes and suppress voices. They need to know more.”
Americans must hold their representatives accountable to develop policy that does more good than harm, to maintain moral integrity and to interact authentically—and not just for a photo-op. (See also: Trump giving a ‘thumbs up’ to the camera after visiting mass shooting survivors in El Paso).
All of America’s public figures should be transparent in their quest for truth and justice, and those—like Don Bacon—who fail to see beyond their own wealth and power, who refuse to look the people they have harmed directly in the eyes—will be remembered, not for their patriotism or valor, but for the spine they left behind.