Open Letter to: Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. John Duncan, Jr., Rep. Phil Roe, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Rep. Jim Cooper, Rep. Diane Black, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. David Kustoff, Rep. Steve Cohen, all members of the Tennessee State Senate, all members of the Tennessee State House of Representatives, Gov. Bill Haslam, Mayor Tim Burchett and the Knox County Commission, Mayor Madeline Rogero and the Knoxville City Council, and to all prospective candidates for these offices from this day forward
Today, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, claiming that they were shifting the “onus” for codifying the policy into law to Congress. I say “claiming” because the president has already indicated that the only way the DACA recipients (Dreamers) will be saved is if you all collectively agree to give him the funding to build his border wall.
You must stop this action by the President and the USAG, and you must stop it without concession. These bully pulpit tactics of your respective parties and the President must end, and they must end now.
We are all Dreamers, ladies and gentlemen. Every single one of us who has been here for more than seven generations! None of our ancestors came here legally. They came seeking freedom from tyranny, freedom to worship as they pleased, and a chance at a better life, but they came here uninvited, unwanted, and without a legal path. The parents of today’s Dreamers are no different! They are seeking freedom from persecution, war and enslavement, freedom from tyranny, and a chance to live a better life. They are no different from my immigrant ancestors, nor from yours.
I mean this with absolutely no disrespect to nor diminishment of the 800,000 DACA Dreamers, at all. I say this because they have absolutely exactly the same rights as I have to stand in this country, to remain in this country, to be part of this country. They are 1st generation Dreamers. I am a 13th generation Dreamer, the mother of 14th generation Dreamers, grandmother of 15th generation Dreamers, and great-grandmother of the 16th generation of Dreamers. The earliest of my known “immigrant” ancestors arrived here sometime between 1585 and 1610. The first generation of known Dreamers in my family was born in Boston in 1614. The “legality” of that 1st generation Dreamer ancestor of mine is no better than the legality of the DACA Dreamers 403 years later. What part of this do you not get?
I represent one of sixteen generations of a family that carries not just the “white” DNA of most of “Europe” but now, through marriages, blending of families that add other family lines, and the birth of subsequent generations, a family that carries the DNA of American Indians, Africans, Mexicans, and Koreans.
My family is every single category of “other” the government seems hell bent on persecuting, destroying, and demonizing, and we have been there on the front of every line that built the very nation each of you claims to serve!
Sixteen generations descended from the colonists, frontiersmen, and settlers you commemorate with monuments and statues, and claim to emulate with your service and laws, the slaves that were beaten into building it, and the indigenous Americans this government is still trying to wipe out.
Sixteen generations of Americans, ladies and gentlemen, who have fought in every war waged on this continent and by this nation we call the United States of America.
And for what did they fight?
So that five living generations of this family could watch while today, September 5, 2017, the President of the United States could act like some neighborhood bully threatening to crush the kitten he’s holding if we don’t turn over our lunch money and souls so he can build his damn wall? No, no, a thousand times no! They fought to make America what it is: Land of the free, home of the brave, sanctuary to the oppressed.
America hasn’t always been a sanctuary. American has always been the sanctuary for the oppressed of the world! And yet, your parties have spent 228 days allowing one man to destroy everything my ancestors and many of yours fought and died for because it’s easier to sit silently while he and his cohorts vilify and demonize “other” than it is for you to stand up and be the people you campaigned that you are: Christians with deeply held faith and family values.
Well, fine. I’m standing here and I’m calling you out on your claims about who you are. Prove yourselves true to your words, your “family values”, and your “Christianity”.
Show that you value all families by protecting the Dreamer children who know no other life but the life they have here in this country. When you fail to stand up for today’s Dreamers, you fail my ancestors and yours.
Make good on your claims of Christian faithfulness and witness by doing what “Christians” are called to do regarding immigrants, and note: the Bible makes no distinction between “legal/documented” and “illegal/undocumented” immigrants. The scripture passages are listed below in case you’ve forgotten them, save one:
Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV): “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Ladies and gentlemen, you are making it nigh on impossible to carry out the greatest commandment when your actions do not carry out the promises of faithfulness and family values you made about yourselves, and you are preventing this nation from exemplifying those commandments when you allow the President to vindictively persecute the Dreamers. And what he and USAG Sessions have done is persecution.
There is no – N.O. – compassion in ending DACA; none whatsoever. There is only clear, bigoted contempt for anyone in the category of “other” and clear, manipulative contempt for the truth of what America is and always has been: Sanctuary from oppression. There is only certain death, persecution, and exploitation of those you would deport.
Prove you are the men and women with deeply held faith and family values you claimed when you campaigned for our votes. Defend the DACA policy through legislation, through law suits, through ordinances, through calling down your own law enforcement agencies from assisting the DOJ in this persecution of these children, and through whatever it takes to codify it into law and prevent the deportation of 800,000 children who trusted this government enough to enroll in DACA in the first place, and by not allowing the President to force or trick you at the expense of these children into paying for a wall that we do not need instead of the roads, bridges and public schools we do need.
With all due respect, prove it.
Knoxville, TN 37920
Lest you forget, God’s position on immigrants is clear:
- “The LORD your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19 CEB)
- “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9 NLT)
- “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV)
- “The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you” (Exodus 12:49 NIV)
- “Don’t oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; don’t plan evil against each other!” (Zechariah 7:10 CEB)
- “The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” (Psalm 146:9 ESV)
- “You have brought your judgment days near and have come to your years of punishment [because] father and mother are treated with contempt, and the foreign resident is exploited within you. The fatherless and widow are oppressed in you” (Ezekiel 22:4, 7 HCSB)
- “‘I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,’ says the LORD of Hosts” (Malachi 3:5 HCSB)
- “If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever” (Jeremiah 7:5-7 NIV 1984)
- “Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3 ESV)
- “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” (Deuteronomy 24:19-21 NIV)
- “When you have finished paying the entire tenth part of your produce on the third year—that is the year for paying the tenth-part—you will give it to the Levites, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows so they can eat in your cities until they are full” (Deuteronomy 26:12 CEB)
- “‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:35-40 NASB)
- “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)