"First, they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me."
This quote byGerman Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets; serves as a stark reminder of what can happen when people decide to look the other way when they see acts of injustice.
Disturbing things are happening in America today, things that should make every thinking and conscientious person angry, fearful and concerned enough to speak up. People are disappearing, children taken from their parent's arms; some with little hope of being reunited. Asylum seekers turned away from our borders; a land that promised to welcome and shelter the weak and oppressed, and in the most recent twist of the vendetta on immigrants, a task force has been formed to investigate and strip naturalized citizens of their citizenship to make them eligible for deportation. We cannot destroy families in the name of freedom and call it justice.
I don't believe that the gates should be flung open to allow everyone to enter at will, nor that especially those who have committed criminal acts should be allowed to remain. However, immigration reform should be thoughtful, sensible, and above all humane and compassionate. Human beings are herded like cattle, and innocent children suffer as a result of the "catch-all" methods being utilized currently. The raids carried out by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have created an atmosphere of fear and persecution, civil liberties are violated, and yet with each further infraction the pushback is minimal, there are murmurs of protest, but it is not enough. There must be a national outcry.
We must find the outrage that fueled change such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act, and the Equality Act. Today it is immigrants, tomorrow, it could be another group, and another, and another until no one is safe and the people no longer have a voice.
I urge everyone to take a stand; write to your state, and congressional representatives. Ask them to speak on your behalf to ask for a halt to this draconian and harsh punitive approach to immigration reform. Take to social media or any other platform you have to cry out and unite your voice with that of others. Use every tool at your disposal to make a noise so loud that the lawmakers in Washington cannot ignore it.
"All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men [women] to stand aside and do nothing."
Until every last child is reunited, we must not stop. Until the climate of fear that pervades our cities and states is quelled, we must not stop. Until there is a reasoned and rational approach to implementing our immigration policies, we must not stop. Until there is recognition by all, that the non-actions of today can lead to the persecution of tomorrow, we must not stop.
Plainfield, I will lend my voice to yours to speak out and do everything in my power to stand against these policies that dehumanize and persecute immigrants who have not committed any criminal acts and are seeking refuge. I will hold fast to the tenets that are the foundation of American democracy; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the self-evident truth that all men are created equal. I will do this often and loudly for as long as it takes the policymakers to do something about it. Our small cities must now lead the way, and in Plainfield, we will respect human rights and act with decency and dignity at all times.
Creating, One Plainfield, One Future
Mayor Adrian O. Mapp
City of Plainfield