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Injustices cannot be ignored

By MARIE TOMLINSON

People are on the move. Deserts are growing. Coastlines are sinking. It doesn’t matter what you think about global warming. The satellites that make weather forecasts possible also show that tides are getting higher and once fertile land is being swallowed by dust and sand.

People are walking north. They come to the border and throw themselves on their knees begging for asylum.

Our answer has not been one that Christ would approve of. As he said himself in Mathew 25:35-40, “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? When did we see thee and stranger and welcomed thee? Truly I say to you, as you did to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

As citizens in a democracy we have a personal accountability for the actions of our government. A 7-year-old girl died in our custody because we did not give her a drink of water.

Anything a government is allowed to do a small group it will eventually do to you.

Some people say “That isn’t true. Look at the Japanese internment. Our government hasn’t done anything like that since 1942.”

In 1942 our government rounded up 110,000 people of Japanese descent, many of whom were birthright citizens, second and even third generation of people born here. All of their belongings were confiscated, their money, their businesses, even their dishes.

They were allowed to take one suitcase. Men were separated from the women and children. The men went to prison where they were beaten and tortured. The woman and children went to concentration camps in the desert. They lived in leaky tarpaper barracks with no privacy.

We hope our country has matured since then. These separations at the border are uncomfortably close to 1942.

We have an international treaty that says people seeking asylum have a legal right to a hearing. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.” If we say it’s ok to deprive one group of their civil rights then other groups become vulnerable.

It isn’t enough to say, “Never again.” We must actively work for justice. Write your representatives. Tell them you want all civil rights to be respected. Contribute to organizations such as the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. Go to a protest or vigil.

If we want to keep our civil rights we must defend them for everyone.

Marie Tomlinson is a Fredonia resident.

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