July 14, 2019

According to Martin Luther King, Jr., America needed a “coalition of conscience.” It’s time for people of conscience to think deeply about what is happening in America today.

Beginning today, ICE deportation raids are reported to begin in cities around the country. ICE is an ironic acronym, given that it perfectly describes the state of our national heart that we should be participating in such a travesty of justice. Thousands will be arrested -- mainly from undocumented immigrant families that the government says have missed a court appearance or have been issued court-ordered removals from the country. According to reports, ICE is prepared to target more than 2,000 recently arrived migrant families — most of whom do not have criminal histories.

Many of the migrants who will be picked up are people who didn't get proper notice of hearings and were then ordered removed for failing to show up for court. Mayors across the country have refused to allow their police forces to in any way participate with the ICE officials. In the words of Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, the sweeps have "enhanced the anxiety level of people within my city,” adding, "I can't quite see the upside.”

So why is the Trump administration proceeding as they are? Are mass raids standard operating procedure for immigration enforcement?

Absolutely not.

No matter who people are - no matter what their citizenship - they are entitled to humane treatment and equal protection under the Constitution according to our system of laws. Nothing should ever lead America to compromise our basic values as a nation.

Mass raids such as these are an instrument not of proper immigration enforcement, but rather instruments of intentional fear and trauma meant to give a signal to people literally all across the world that they should not even think about coming here. “America is closed to you. Look what might happen to you too, if you keep trying to get into our country.”

And let’s remember why people are trying to come here to begin with. People come here today from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in order to escape conditions of such violence and horror so great that they’re willing to risk anything – including walking across a desert with small children-- to find a place where they and their families can live in peace. The humanitarian crisis at our border was preceded by the humanitarian crises in those countries.

I am outraged, as a woman and as an American, to think that after all the pain people have gone through in countries far away from here, today – in the country where they had sought asylum - they are living with the fear that at any minute, men with guns will be raiding their homes. And let us not forget that their children are watching, feeling the terror with them.

This entire dysfunctional, immoral cycle must stop. As president, I will establish a United States Department of Peace to make the amelioration of unnecessary human suffering the core of my international as well as domestic policy. We should not be surprised at such horrors as we are experiencing due to our immigration policies today, and it is an indictment of all sides of the immigration debate that things have gotten to where they are. The political establishment has failed to stave off these problems because it has failed to stave off human despair, putting economic desires before human needs as the core of our public policy. There is no reason to give that establishment another chance to get it right. It has been getting it wrong for far too long.

We need a fundamental pattern disruption of America’s public policy, both domestic and international. In both cases, we should see large groups of desperate people as a security risk. For desperate people will always do desperate things.

What is happening today is a dramatic example of the challenges that now face us as a nation. Who exactly do we now choose to be? Are we to be open-hearted and purpose-driven, seeking to be a beacon of democratic values? Or are we now no more than a selfish, hypocritical country that has turned its back on the values that have truly made this country great?

By supporting my campaign for the presidency, you’re supporting a much larger effort than simply protesting one cruel policy that’s in effect this weekend. You’re supporting an effort to transform America, as we address not only the symptoms but the cause of the problems that are tearing at our hearts today.