Tikkun Daily button

Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

An “exodus” rather than a “caravan”


by: Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist on October 31st, 2018 | 1 Comment »

Image of Honduran refugees trying to cross a bridge and being blocked

2,000 Honduran migrants traveling toward Mexico. Image courtesy of boitchy (Flickr).

Rather than referring to the thousands of mostly Hondurans now journeying across Mexico as a “caravan,” with all the fears and dangers this can stir up, the public discourse can shift significantly if this is referred to instead as an “exodus” of people fleeing from oppression and violence. It is similar to the Exodus described in the Bible, as well as the many stories and waves of immigration throughout Scripture. Exodus politics are at work whenever those in power take advantage of and exploit the powerless, as US policies have been doing for decades in Central America.

This is consistent with the many ways the story of the Exodus has empowered many people throughout history, such as African-Americans and Central Americans seeking freedom and liberation. “Exodus can be read…as the story of the revolutionary struggle of an oppressed people who search for their liberation, and as the story of the formation of a new society based on other principles…than the generalized slavery of Egypt and Canaan.” [J. Pixley in Global Biblical Commentary, p. 28]

Those desperately fleeing from extreme poverty and violence in this exodus today may seek a better life in a “promised land” but what awaits them is far from that! There are powerful forces of resistance, militarization and even criminalization that await them, and if they are even able to reach the US, no promise of a better life assured. But this does not deter them, nor did hurdles turn back the ancient Israelites. Instead, as one exclaimed on behalf of many, “only God gives us the strength to go on, and to hope.”

In the original Exodus story, the Pharaoh was so fearful of the oppressed people growing in number and power that he ordered the midwives Shiprah and Puah to kill all their male babies (Exodus 1). However, they deceived and went against the Pharaoh’s order and instead, respected God. How might people of faith along with others today be like these midwives and resist, even block what the current “pharaoh” is intending? What policies might be developed on the basis of compassionate justice rather than the perpetuation of fear and more violence?


The Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist is a Lutheran pastor and theologian living in Oakland CA, who seeks to connect faith perspectives with what is occurring politically today  (bloomquistkaren@gmail.com).

The Politicization of Murder in the U.S. and U.K.


by: Frankie Wallace on September 12th, 2018 | Comments Off

Image courtesy of Will H. Mcmahan.

For decades, politicians around the world have used the brutal murders of others as political bait, reeling in audiences over their heartbreaking stories of senseless killings. But political figures have primarily used this tactic to push their anti-immigrant views. No matter which side you take on this issue, is it really right in the first place to politicize someone’s murder for political gain? Politicians have been accused of doing so on both sides of the aisle, from any political party. Often they don’t take into account how this affects the families of the victims and how immigrants feel to be generalized in such a negative way.

Donald Trump and the Right
President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda is nothing new. From the day he announced his intention to run for president, he painted a violent image of undocumented immigrants and made immigration reform a key topic of discussion during the campaign. Yet in recent weeks, his anti-immigrant sentiment came back into the fold, again presenting illegal immigrants as sick and evil individuals. This came with the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old college student from the University of Iowa. Christian Rivera, an undocumented immigrant, confessed to killing Tibbetts and led police to her dead body.


Goodbye to Time


by: Adam Fagin on July 16th, 2018 | Comments Off

As a result of President Trump's "zero-tolerance policy," thousands of immigrant children have been detained and separated from their parents for indefinite periods.

Detention centers for the children of immigrants have again raised the specter of the Holocaust in mainstream civic discourse. As a Jewish-American with a strong sense of cultural identity and an even stronger belief that what’s past is prologue, I have frequently wondered what my relationship and responsibility to the reemergence of these images should be, whether it’s tiki-torched white nationalists shouting “Jews will not replace us!” in Charlottesville or swastikas raised at rallies in criticism of the current administration.

In response to this question, I’m reminded of a recent reading of Art Spiegelman’s Maus, the graphic novel about his father Vladek’s survival from the outbreak of the war through his time at Auschwitz. The work brings together a past of unimaginable physical and psychological torment and present-day New York where an elderly Vladek bears witness to his son.

In one scene, Art and his wife, Francoise, wait in the car as Vladek enters a supermarket to return several opened but unfinished boxes of food. The two are mortified by this attempt. But they know it’s useless to intervene. On the way to the store, Art and Francoise had listened as the old man continued his story of the camps. His survival was a miracle, says Francoise as they watch Vladek arguing with the manager through the store window, to which Art responds: “But in some ways he didn’t survive.”


Suffer the Little Children


by: Michael Bader on July 5th, 2018 | Comments Off

Painting of a photo which has come to symbolize the US Trump administration current Zero Tolerance immigration policy.

Painting of a photo which has come to symbolize the US Trump administration current Zero Tolerance immigration policy. Painting by Dan Lacey.

Sometimes it seems that it took images of crying toddlers and grieving mothers to mobilize Americans against Donald Trump and his Right-wing enablers. Of course, there has certainly been a “resistance” to Trump before now, but nothing like what erupted following the implementation of Trump’s zero tolerance policy. Notwithstanding, the current Right-wing echo chamber’s cynical spin about these news stories, the outpouring of spontaneous indignation about forced family separations at the border spanned the political spectrum. Christian evangelicals, the UN Commission on Human Rights, several Republican lawmakers, and even the Pope were all upset and angry. The depiction of children who lost their mothers sparked greater and more intense resistance than most of Trump’s other offensive and provocative initiatives.

It’s worth noting that we didn’t see that same degree of passion about children who were about to lose their health insurance last year.

We certainly don’t read much about the heartbreaking lot of latchkey children raised in families headed by single mothers working for stagnant wages, barely making ends meet, or children raised by parents addicted to opiates. These kids will never appear on the cover of Time Magazine. The media doesn’t cover what Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb once called the “hidden injuries of class.” Instead, the media dotes on the latest news about Robert Mueller and Michael Cohen. And as they do so, the Left and Right inevitably settle into their own tribal tents.

Why doesn’t the plight of the 16 million children currently being raised in poverty elicit the outrage that these children at the border do? Why exactly did so many people seem to wake up to the cruelty of Trump and the Republican Party when immigrant families were broken up?

On one level, it certainly seems that the abstract facts of poverty, social injustice, and the unequal distribution of wealth don’t elicit the deep psychological reflexes that are triggered by the stories and pictures of real panicked and grief stricken individual children. The former is suffering at a distance; the latter is up close and highly personal.

These reflexes and triggers are not uniquely American, nor do they have anything at all to do with American values. Instead, I think that our moral outrage reflects the universal importance of attachment in human life – the central importance of the earliest connections between parents – especially mothers – and children. Child development experts have warned us for a long time that any disruption to such ties in the course of development results in tremendous grief and distress, and if the rupture is great enough, it causes significant trauma that indelibly damages children’s brain development and psyches. Research has shown that significant disruptions of attachment result in later life in an increase of cardiovascular disease, anxiety disorders, addiction, criminality, depression, obesity, and suicide.

I believe that we react so strongly to stories of broken attachments because all of us have experienced, even in the best of circumstances, some version, some degree, of exactly such a loss. When we see it on television, it resonates with unconscious reservoirs of grief and trauma in all of us.


Traumatizing Young Children


by: Peter Gabel on June 19th, 2018 | 3 Comments »

How can Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions and their supporters, including the ICE workers who engage in the actual behavior, tear small children away from their parents and warehouse them in detention facilities, subjecting these children to trauma and a horrifying sense of shock and loss from which some may never recover?

Border Patrol agent conducts a pat down of a woman at a holding facility

Border Patrol agent conducts a pat down at a holding facility. Photo courtesy of US Department of Homeland Security.

The answer to this is that Trump and his co-participants do not actually experience either themselves or the children as fully human.  Instead, they are withdrawn into themselves, their hearts hardened by a lifetime of conditioning to be fearful of others, and that fear is then displaced onto a mental tableau in which they imagine themselves to be part of an “us” that is being infiltrated by a “them”, who are “crossing the border” without permission. “The border” is supposed to separate us and them, but it is being violated, threatening to reveal our underlying vulnerability to being humiliated by other human beings, indeed the very person next to us wherever we are. We have been thus humiliated in the past, and we must not allow that to occur again. And that fear of humiliation leads these hardened humans to withdraw from the actual world of lived experience suffused with the natural empathy that flows from existing in this real world of beautiful vulnerability, and to pretend, mentally, that they are living in an imaginary world consisting of more-or-less full-time protectionist fantasies.

In this latter hallucinated milieu, the rationale of “deterring the immigrants who are crossing the border” answers the pull, coming from the open heart of Being itself, to recognize the psychic violence being done to these children. Trump and Sessions and the millions who support their policy co-intentionally suppress their recognition of the actual humanity of these children beneath an imaginary shield-tableau in which the children are “dehumanized” just as Trump and Sessions have dehumanized themselves. Hardened against the legacy of fear of humiliation that turns like a worm inside them, they express over and over again their determination not to re-open themselves to any human being, those others who “bring drugs, who bring crime, who are rapists.”

For more on this tragic phenomenon that can only be resolved by a healing revolution that may already be occurring, see Chapters 2-4 of my book The Desire for Mutual Recognition on fear of the other and the construction of imaginary communities.


Peter Gabel  is editor-at-large of Tikkun and the author most recently of The Desire for Mutual Recognition, published by Routledge Press.

Asleep in a Prison: Reflections on Pacific School of Religion’s “Borders and Identity” Lectures


by: Paige Foreman on March 24th, 2017 | Comments Off

“Why, when God’s world is so big, did you fall asleep in a prison of all places?”


The day after attending Pacific School of Religion’s “Borders and Identity” 2017 Earl and Boswell lectures on March 17th in Berkeley, I swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco. The island and its infamous prison looked desolate and lonely surrounded by an iron sea and a gray sky. I shivered in my bathing suit on the deck of the boat that was approaching the island and stared wide-eyed at the 58-degree water I would have to dive into soon. Doubt crept into me like the cold – I was not sure I would make it across.

Alcatraz Island surrounded by the sea and clouds.

When it comes to immigration, America has confined itself in a prison. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas gave the keynote lecture the evening of March 17th. He is the founder and CEO of Define American, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing the stories of immigrants in order to elevate the conversation around immigration.


Humor From Tikkun


by: David Tell, Tikkun Managing Editor and Chief Satirist on March 21st, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Trump Motivates Congressional GOP on Health Bill

Donald J. Trump issued a warning to Republican House members in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill as dissension within GOP ranks over the proposed Obamacare replacement bill has been heating up.

According to widespread reports, Trump told lawmakers he would help ensure they lose their seats in 2018 if they don’t back the GOP health-care bill.


A ‘Moment’ for our Movement: The Work of Creating a More Perfect Union in 2017


by: Karin Swann-Rubenstein on March 10th, 2017 | Comments Off

Following the now-famed Women’s March on the day after President Trump’s inauguration, speculation mounted about whether we were seeing a real “movement” or simply a “moment” of reaction from an outraged electorate. Since that day, there’s been no dearth of citizens speaking up, in town halls, airports and on city streets. People who never imagined themselves “protesters” have seized the reins of citizenship suggesting that surely somethingisgalvanizing America. But the question is an important one,doesthis yet qualify as a movement?

Since my days as a student at UC Berkeley in the 1980s, the question of what makes a movement has always intrigued me. I noted the vast difference between the Iran-Contra protesters, characterized by fierceness and all-black garb and the masses, and 20 years prior, of tie-dyed youths who turned out for the summer of love. The Civil Rights movement was something different altogether, and ultimately the force that most powerfully redefined the politics and consciousness of our deeply divided country in the 1960s.

What strikes me most about what we see emerging today is that the vast majority of protests in recent weeks have taken place inreactionto President Trump’s initiatives, mobilized largely by a strong “anti-Trump” sentiment. Looking back at movements that have proven successful, however, I question whether this axis for organizing is enough?


Humor From Tikkun


by: David Tell, Tikkun Managing Editor and Chief Satirist on March 10th, 2017 | Comments Off

‘Changing the Channel’ on Trump


It’s been noted – and amply demonstrated – that Trump garners his awareness of the general national and world situation – its issues, problems, crises (and proposed solutions) and even of “fluff” – from his daily diet of cable “news.”

Reporting and observation have indicated that the president watches several hours of Fox and CNN virtually every morning, and his regular tweets (often expressing alarm, ire, contempt and so on regarding various pieces of information about events and people) frequently come within seconds of the broadcast about an item he is responding to.

It’s believed the recent Trump tweet (known now as “Treets”) accusing former President Obama of having wiretapped Trump Tower during the election campaign is one of many cases in point.


Humor From Tikkun


by: By David Tell, Tikkun Managing Editor and Chief Satirist on March 9th, 2017 | Comments Off

(Pre-)Deconstructing Trump’s Wall – Literally


In a phenomenon perversely inversely reminiscent of the collecting of pieces of the breached and demolished Berlin Wall in 1991, residents along both sides of the southern border of the U.S. have been making off with material slated for the construction of Trump’s much-touted barrier against Mexican migrants.

In this case, they’re making off with pieces of the the astronomically costly wall before it’s even built.

The activity has so frustrated construction workers and border agents that they have even used some of the same materials to throw brickbats at the thieves – “some of them good people,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement regional director Budd Tugly said he assumed.