“You can totally say ‘no,’ but may I take your picture? I’ve never seen a hat like that.” I hold up my now wind-bent androgynous family decal-in-a-red-circle sign. It is July 2, 2018, two days after hundreds of thousands across the country demonstrated for #FamiliesBelongTogether. I am heading to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services CA-S.F. Field Office, responsible for the administration of immigration in partnership with I.C.E., or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration matters used to be part of Immigration and Naturalization Services. Now U.S. Customs is thrown into the mix, and it is all conducted through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Our country’s naturalization process has been militarized by using local sheriff and police departments. Thus the “E” in I.C.E.
I am talking about another letter as well. We as a nation and as a world are horrified by the inhumane and cruel zero tolerance policy of this administration, the caging of children, the separation of families, and the imprisonment of asylum seekers who simply seek a better life. The sadness is deep. The need to stand for truth and conscience is imperative. This afternoon, we coordinate to form a ring around the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Office building. A drum corps parades the block in rhythm to our chants. A mother pushing a two seated stroller keeps up the momentum as her kids wag their heads and fist their mother’s beat. Organizers pass out muslin squares with a black letter and four pins to attach to our front. I get an “L”. All together, the letters spell ABOLISH ICE over and over and over again around the building. Tourists stop to listen. Commuters wave and thumb up through the windows of the Golden Gate Transit Buses heading home to Marin. Listen to the stories and information, then go and break down those isolation walls and open the door to compassion.
My hat? A red, white, and blue pussy hat knit by Aunt Margaret.
Much gratitude and appreciation to Families Belong Together – East Bay, Oakland Sin Fronteras, SURJ – Oakland/Bay Area, Anti Police-Terror Project, Bay Resistance, musician Diana Gameros, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and the National Lawyers Guild.