Neighbors Protecting Their Own in Tennessee

New Orleans     This is a story that needs to be retold of a working class neighborhood in Hermitage, Tennessee, who stood up for one of their own, even if he and his son were undocumented immigrants.  Margaret Renkl, a contributing writer for the New York Times, wrote the story of what happened when,

ICE Came to Take Their Neighbor. They Said No.

NASHVILLE — Residents of a quiet working-class neighborhood in the Hermitage section of Nashville woke up very early on July 22 to find officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement trying to arrest one of their own.

An unmarked pickup truck with flashing red and blue lights had pulled into the man’s driveway, blocking his van. Two ICE agents armed with an administrative warrant ordered the man and his 12-year-old son to step out of their vehicle. The man, who had lived in the neighborhood for some 14 years, did exactly what the Tennessee Immigrant Refugee and Rights Coalition urges immigrants to do in such cases: He stayed put.

An administrative warrant gives officials permission to detain a suspect but it does not allow them to enter his house or vehicle. The ICE officials in that Nashville driveway were apparently counting on the man not to know that. With an administrative warrant, “there’s no judicial review, no magistrate review, no probable cause,” Daniel Ayoade Yoon, a lawyer later summoned to the house by immigration activists, told The Nashville Scene. He told WTVF, “They were saying, ‘If you don’t come out, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to arrest your 12-year-old son.’” The administrative warrant they held did not give them the authority to do either.

Neighbors witnessing the standoff were appalled. “We was like, ‘Oh my God, are you serious?’” Angela Glass told WPLN. “And that’s when everybody got mad and was like, ‘They don’t do nothing, they don’t bother nobody, you haven’t got no complaints from them. Police have never been called over there. All they do is work and take care of their family and take care of the community.’”

Another neighbor, Stacey Farley, told Newsweek, “The family don’t bother nobody, they work every day, they come home, the kids jump on their trampoline. It’s just a community.”

More neighbors joined the scene and urged the man and his son not to listen to the agents. As temperatures rose in the hot Tennessee sun, they brought water and food and cool rags. They refilled the van’s gas tank so the man could keep his air-conditioner running. “We stuck together like neighbors are supposed to do,” Felishadae Young told WZTV.

ICE officials summoned the Nashville police for backup, but the officers who arrived stood nearby but did not intervene. State law prohibits any Tennessee community from designating itself a sanctuary city, but the police here don’t get involved in civil immigration cases. “We’re not here to enforce any federal script,” Sgt. Noah Smith told The Tennessean. “We’re just here if anything major happens.”

More than four hours later, ICE agents finally abandoned their efforts and drove away, though everyone on the scene expected them to return. Neighbors and activists linked arms to form a human chain from the van to the door of the house. The man and his son dashed inside. A woman came to the door and in Spanish tearfully thanked bystanders for their help. Shortly thereafter, the family fled.

Small as this story might appear to be when balanced against the great travesty of American immigration policy today, it nevertheless gives us hope. It is the story of David and Goliath, of Hansel and Gretel, of Robin Hood. It is the story of weakness defeating strength. It reminds us, in this cynical age, of what is still good in us, of what we are yet capable of, even against great odds.

So we salute the heroes of Hermitage — the ordinary people who, like the rest of us, are absorbed by their own worries, contending with their own troubles, but who nevertheless turned from their own lives to protect their neighbor, to shield him from the lies and tricks of the very government that was formed to protect his rights. We celebrate their courage in the face of unwarranted authority, and we take heart from their commitment to justice. We replay the video again and again to watch them link arms, to watch them calling out words of comfort and encouragement. We remember a truth that has lately been too easy to forget: We belong to one another.

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Mexican Tariffs Create an Alternate Reality

Mural in Sam Houston Park in Houston, TX

New Orleans       Texas is a red state with a headache.  The cities are becoming bluer and bluer, and a huge number of the F150 pickup driving, cowboy boot wearing folks are Latinos.  A visit to Houston might be educational for the president.  For example, President Trump doesn’t understand that the border stretches all the way into the city without even stopping for gas.

Before a screening of “The Organizer” at the Harris County AFL-CIO building, I pulled into the giant, fenced parking lot across the street with the boldly painted letters spelling Taqueria.  Walking in the largest set of doors, I then realized that I was actually in a bus station.  The space was cavernous and the buses were all going back and forth to Mexico with couples, families, and elderly with their belongings sitting quietly and chatting of the benches.  In the taqueria of the two servers, only one young woman spoke any English, while the other spoke nothing but Spanish, and since I was the only Anglo anywhere nearby, it didn’t pose any problems in this establishment.

A day is coming when Texas and its huge number of voters will once again be the kingmaker and replace Florida as the critical battleground for national politics.  Trump likely could care less how much he alienates the millions in Texas with Mexican roots and relatives, but the future of the Republican Party, and perhaps the Democratic Party as well, will pivot on the fact that Texas is a bilingual and multi-ethnic, multi-racial state.  Heck, there are already two candidates in the Democratic list for president with Texas roots!

Keep this thought in the foreground as we contemplate the alternate reality that Trump is now trying to create of the border and the crisis of tens of thousands of migrant families fleeing Central America and flooding into the United States as he attempts to bully Mexico into creating the dike, and it becomes clear he is the little boy with his small fingers in the hole.  First, there were threats of tariffs, destabilizing the symbiotic human and economic realities of the border.  Pout, pout, whine, whine, he wanted Mexico to somehow solve the problem for the whole continent, which is as ridiculous a proposition as his claim that they would pay for his wall.  Then he swore he had a deal, except all involved on both sides of the table argue that all of the announced agreements had been made months ago.  Then in another twitter storm, he seemed to be claiming that there were secret side agreements which the Mexican foreign minister categorically denies.  This is our president, and this is how we now do foreign policy and trade negotiations.

This isn’t a Trump reality show, it’s a complete farce, but any time in Texas within hundreds of miles of the border quickly demonstrates it’s not a farce, but a tragedy.  And, it gets worse. In his madness, he claims victory from this Mexican mess of his own making, and now claims he’s going to see if he can do the same thing with China.

Via con Dios!

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