facebook linkedin twitter

We Promised My Grandparents Never Again.

September 15, 2018 by Nathan Kasai
Source: Third Way

After widespread and unwavering backlash, President Trump tried to control the fallout from his self-created family separation crisis, signing an executive order that claims to keep asylum-seeking families together. But the President’s executive order simply trades one cruel policy for another. Instead of taking children from their parents, it imprisons families in twenty-first century internment camps — something we, as a nation, promised my grandparents we would never tolerate again.

Seventy-six years ago, the government sent my grandparents to prison camps despairingly similar to the ones families fleeing violence will be sent to under Trump’s new policy. Japanese Americans are painfully aware of the lasting damage these camps will inflict. We have the family memories to know exactly what this will do.

The camps were brutally traumatic for my grandparents. So much so that my grandfather never spoke about his time in them. He was just a teenager when his father was taken and jailed separately in a different camp because of his stature in the Japanese-American community. Returning to those memories was simply too painful.

She told me how she feared there would never be a place for her in this country if she was released.

My grandmother, though, was determined that I would know our history so that we would not sit by if the government repeated its past outrages. She told me how her heart sank when she first walked into her barrack that housed three other families and had no walls for privacy between them. She told me how she grew up behind barbed wire, playing under the constant watch of armed soldiers. She told me how she feared there would never be a place for her in this country if she was released. She told me how she couldn’t understand why a country built on the ideals of liberty and equality would categorically imprison families.

Hearing these stories, it seemed preposterous to think that the United States could ever repeat the injustices inflicted on our family. Those were the injustices of past generations, not mine. It seemed we had learned that some tactics were too brutal to be utilized again in America.

But here we are.

Today, families presenting good faith asylum claims, who are following the law and the prescribed process to petition for that status, are facing the same widespread and prolonged captivity my then-teenage grandparents did.

Families asking our country for protection from imminent danger in their home country are more than willing to follow the rules.

Just like when my grandparents were imprisoned, the President claims he has no choice. But there is always a choice. Before June 2017, the government placed asylum-seeking families into the Family Case Management Program — monitoring them closely, but allowing them to live outside of detention facilities. And despite the President’s claim this created a “catch and release” system, it worked exceptionally well until he ended it. The government’s own records show that over 99% of participants appeared at their immigration court hearings. Families asking our country for protection from imminent danger in their home country are more than willing to follow the rules. No matter how many times President Trump, Homeland Security Secretary Nielson, and Attorney General Sessions lie and claim that they have no choice, it will never be true.

We’ve turned our back on compassion and decency before. We’re doing it again. If my grandparents were alive now, they would be horrified to see what their country is becoming. Then they’d stand up and fight back.

Families belong together, and not in prisons.

Opinions

Loud Climate Policy

Let me set the stage: There’s a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White... Read More

Let me set the stage: There’s a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House. Climate advocates have spent the last few years in the exile of a Republican Administration, one quarter drawing more and more attention to hurricanes and... Read More

My Mom is Living with Alzheimer’s, But We’re Some of the Lucky Ones.

Six years ago, my mother started to show signs of dementia. She would constantly lose personal items around the house... Read More

Six years ago, my mother started to show signs of dementia. She would constantly lose personal items around the house and often became confused in casual conversations. I wish that was the worst of it.  Months later, she began to hallucinate that there was a boy... Read More

The US Needs an Updated Approach to Post-Disaster Housing

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” As we process the reach and devastation of Hurricane Ida, leaving dozens... Read More

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” As we process the reach and devastation of Hurricane Ida, leaving dozens dead and hundreds of thousands without power, Benjamin Franklin’s admonition about preparedness reads as if it could’ve been spoken yesterday.  We know we live in a... Read More

Price Transparency Can Address Fear of Health Care Financial Ruin

The media instills fear (some of which is justified) in Americans every day over COVID-19. Yet it largely ignores another... Read More

The media instills fear (some of which is justified) in Americans every day over COVID-19. Yet it largely ignores another major health care scare nearly on par with the pandemic: going to the hospital. According to recent reporting by Axios, roughly two-thirds of Americans avoid needed health care... Read More

September 10, 2021
by The Breakthrough Institute
We've Made Progress on Climate – but it's Time to Accelerate

A decade ago the world seemed on track for a dark climate future. Global emissions were increasing at a rate... Read More

A decade ago the world seemed on track for a dark climate future. Global emissions were increasing at a rate of 3% per year, China was building a new coal plant every three days, and the idea that global emissions could double or even triple by... Read More

Vulnerable Americans Can’t Build Credit, but Congress Can Change That

A rare feat has occurred in the nation’s capital. A bipartisan group of senators worked together to assemble significant infrastructure legislation... Read More

A rare feat has occurred in the nation’s capital. A bipartisan group of senators worked together to assemble significant infrastructure legislation that now has real viability.   Let’s hope Congress can pull it off again regarding another pressing issue: the crippling lack of credit for far too many Americans. Our representatives have that... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top