By Peter Nordbye
They Will Never Come for Me
We know it is happening even here. The federal government is using its entire repressive apparatus to detain U.S. and Clackamas County residents without due process and without just cause. The level of fear in many of our agricultural communities across the county is palpable.
Children are being withheld from school.
Crimes are not being reported.
Health services not sought, leading to potential increases in infectious diseases.
All because our neighbors are afraid of the government.
But they will never come for me.
I am white.
I am male.
I benefit every day from their fear, from their work, from their contributions.
My food is fresh.
My food’s price is in part because of their toil.
My hotel rooms are being cleaned by PhDs, nurses, and others whose skills could be better used but…..
Roman Zaragoza-Sanchez of Sandy, Oregon, was arrested by ICE agents on Valentine’s Day, on the way to his job at a plant nursery. (As of this writing he is currently in immigration detention.) The arrest happened so suddenly that he left his car on the side of the road with the lights on; his wife had to have a neighbor hire a tow truck to pick it up. Zaragoza-Sanchez has been living in the US since 2001, and has five US-born children (the youngest of whom is 6 years old). He doesn’t have a criminal record. But according to his lawyer, he was ordered deported in 1994 (when he was in the US as a migrant worker).
I have never been stopped on my way to work.
In Woodburn a few Fridays ago, ICE stopped a van of migrant flower pickers because someone in the work van had an ICE detainer warrant. They detained everyone and and shipped them to Washington state’s detainee center. There was no just cause to detain them. The only thing they threatened were the flowers they were about to harvest. Their crime, guilt by association. They worked for the same Oregon contractor who put them in a van with a worker who had an active ICE warrant.
In Mississippi, ICE detained Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant who was brought to the country as a child from Argentina. Daniela was detained after she spoke out against the Trump administration’s deportation sweeps at a press conference on a Wednesday.
Vargas, for more than a decade was protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, a program that grants temporary deportation relief and work authorization to people who were brought to the U.S. as children, Her DACA card expired last November. Because of the high cost associated with the process, she could not afford to reapply until last month; her application is still pending.
Daniela does not have a criminal record, excluding traffic tickets.
Daniela is among a handful of DACA recipients that ICE has arrested recently. Why is our government going after people who have already been vetted and who are supposed to be shielded from immigration enforcement?
Daniel Ramirez was the first known DACA recipient arrested under the Trump administration, when ICE agents came to his house last month to look for his father. He has been detained since February 10.
I never have to worry about returning home to learn whether or not my father or mother have been detained. I am not from here. I traveled as many miles as today’s migrants when they came to Oregon. I traveled from the east (Dakota actually). They travel from the south.
I can walk into the Clackamas County Courthouse and know with absolute confidence that I will walk out when I want. I have no fear that I will be detained simply because of the color of my skin, as happened in Salem and Portland last month.
They will still never come for me. I am a white male.