When We Are No More Than the Enemy

At what point are we no more than the enemy?  Haitian citizens, running from the violence and poverty of their country only to run into policies that paint these citizens as criminals and terrorists.  Danticat’s powerful and personal argument demands attention to an issue of which many of America’s citizens simply do not pay mind to.  Danticat talks about the ‘prisons’ that many Haitian immigrants must live in as they wait for deportation.  This is a place, usually a hotel, where a little girl cannot “sit under one of those tall palm trees in the courtyard, feel the sunshine on her face and touch the green grass with her feet.”  Danticat paints the picture of her uncle, a man of the cloth, who runs from his home in Haiti in 2004, only to be held in one of these hotels, denied of his medication, and die as a result.

But is there a reason our society has turned this blind eye?  Perhaps these policies that are meant to protect us were made with good intention, and maybe they even work well, but it is impossible to deny that there are some that have suffered because of these policies. But is ridding ourselves of these policies the right thing for the American people in the long run?  Do we believe that because we’re saving ourselves from another 9/11 that these terrible acts are worth it in the end?  Is this another reference to Omelas where the suffering of a few is worth the happiness of many?  We must ask ourselves if we have unconsciously become the enemy through our omission.

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1 Response to When We Are No More Than the Enemy

  1. hashubah says:

    Fancycashew brings up the idea of how we treat the immigrants, which I think is an idea worth exploring. Security is a big issue for America right now, but I don’t think it’s a bigger issue than the dignity of every person, American citizen or not. While looking up a few things about immigration I checked out the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website (http://www.uscis.gov). I came across their mission statement, the first line being “USCIS will secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by…” America is a nation of immigrants. They will be the first to admit this. Our foundation as a country is on immigrants. I think we forget this sometime and it becomes a game of ‘us’ and ‘them’ even though everyone in America was once in ‘their’ shoes. The USCIS says that they try to follow the four core values of integrity, respect, ingenuity, and vigilance. In the description of Respect is says “We will demonstrate respect in all of our actions. We will ensure that everyone we affect will be treated with dignity and courtesy regardless of the outcome of the decision. We will model this principle in all of our activities, with each other, our customers and the public. Through our actions, this organization will become known as an example of respect, dignity and courtesy.” With this week’s readings in mind I don’t think they are following their mission. Keeping an innocent girl locked up in a room and denying her the simple pleasure of sunlight and grass is not treating her with dignity. I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard of immigration in a positive light. Normally if I hear about it, it is in a tone of fear of someone who does not want to be deported. I think if the USCIS really wants to follow its mission statement it needs to take a step back and see how its treating its ‘customers’.

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