It has been a hard week. The powerful engage in blatant hypocrisy, outrageous power grabs and violent disregard for human life. Innocent people are dying and families continue to be ripped apart. Lies are rampant. Hatred is on vivid display. I find comfort in communal anger, outrage, and the refusal to accept the dystopia of these difficult days. We continue to fight for a country of justice, kindness and humanity, of inclusion and welcome and community. All are invited to join the fight, to get in good trouble and to refuse to cede the country to the injustices of those in power.
This week my journey for justice took me to the Federal Building in San Francisco, where I stood with the TPS community, those who have lived in the U.S. for years (decades, for many) with Temporary Protected Status. In 2018, Trump decided to end this program that provided safety for people whose countries were enduring unrest, violence or natural devastation, thus removing the legal status of 400,000 immigrants. Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this racist decision.
Those living with TPS have been building their lives, creating families, working in their communities and blessing our country. They are now forced to choose between deportation – separating themselves from their families, communities and lives – or living without paperwork – as second-class residents without rights, living the imminent threat of ICE detention or deportation. In addition to TPS holders, there are another 250,000 U.S. born children of TPS holders who are at risk of losing their parents, being forced to leave their country, or live in fear of ICE ripping their parents away from them. Ending TPS is another of Trump’s many actions to engage in ethnic cleansing of this country’s black and brown residents.
In response to this decision, the TPS community is traveling the country to call attention to their plight, build collective power, warn the immigrant community of the realities of COVID, and uplift the importance and urgency of voting. There is hope that the Supreme Court will weigh in on the injustice of this situation. It is, after all, the failure of congress to create a path to citizenship for TPS holders, along with Trump’s xenophobic attempts to terrorize the immigrant community, that has led to the inhumane choices they are facing.
The TPS freedom bus, known as La Libertad began its 8-week journey across the country this week. Bay Area faith leaders gathered in support of the TPS community to bear witness to their pain, offer prayers for justice and safety, stand in solidarity, and provide blessings for their journey.
The voices of those directly impacted continue to ring in my ears. “We belong here.” Yes. “My parents are upstanding people, which is more than I can say about many politicians.” Absolutely. “Use your vote, because we don’t have one.” Indeed. In fact, the power of the vote is their main plea to the country. Voters have the power to stop these injustices. Voters have the power to change this situation and keep these families together. As La Libertad travels the country, my prayer is that freedom would come to the TPS community. Until that time, we must stand together and protect one another. We must vote for the freedom of all who call the United States home. And we must not rest until freedom comes.