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Arizona Republic Editorial Board: “Pastor’s Deportation Shows Who We Are Now”

 

“We live in an ugly new America when a role model like Guatemalan pastor Antonio Velasquez would be deported, just to show we can.”

Phoenix, AZ – In a powerful editorial published todayThe Arizona Republic turns a critical eye to the Trump Administration’s policy of mass deportation, where even individuals who have lived here for decades, working hard and raising American families, are suddenly being banished from living in the United States.

The piece highlights the pending deportation of Antonio Velasquez, a distinguished pastor, father, and neighbor with three American children, as yet another example of how the Trump Administration’s immigration decisions are an affront to our American values.

Find key excerpts below, and the editorial in its entirety here.

“Snapshot: America 2017.

A father of three is in custody, due to be separated from his wife and three children.

This is what America has become.

His only “crime?” Being in the country illegally.

This is how we do things now

Over the span of nearly three decades, Antonio Velasquez has distinguished himself as a model neighbor and a community leader. He was not a priority for deportation. But he is due to be shipped back to a country where his life may be in danger.

This is how we do things now.

His wife and U.S.-born children will be left to cope and wonder whatever happened to America the compassionate.

This is the new United States of America.

The Trump administration sets the tone, and its blunt instrument is deportation.

[…]

In this new America, immigration enforcement is a plate on which to serve up raw meat to a political base that delights in scapegoating illegal immigration.

Migrants get the blame for unwelcome demographic, social and economic changes that have turned the middle class into an endangered species.

Our government defines us as “tough” by leaving three children fatherless.

Our nation defines itself by using its might and power to rip apart a family.

Apparently we are OK with that. There is no uproar. No marches. No outcry from the masses.

We acquiesce to this brave, new national order.

The trauma of three American-born children are no match for the zeal to inflict pain on the immigrant community.

Make no mistake: Inflicting pain is the goal. This is about symbolism.

[…]

Velasquez’s ministry has made him a beloved leader of the Valley’s Guatemalan community. He’s a leader in his community, advocating for Guatemalan immigrants.

He runs youth soccer leagues to help build resilience in Central American and Latino teens so they are less likely to be seduced by drugs and gangs.

He has served as a role model. A spouse. A father. Pastor. Friend to his community. A de facto citizen of a country where he built a life and made decades of contributions.

But in today’s America those things don’t count because Velasquez is also undocumented.

That one fact defines him.

We have reduced our national identity to fit in a tiny, airless box where justice can only suffocate.

That’s America, 2017.

Unless Americans refuse to accept that narrow definition of who we are.