A possie in Aussie

February 13, 2009

Pitting neighbour against neighbour is a sacrilege

Filed under: asylum,human rights — Nayano @ 9:01 am
Tags: , ,

“For us to spend our time pitting neighbor against neighbor was a sacrilege”, said Judith Camp, a city councilwoman in Texas, commenting on the repeal of previous discriminatory laws against illegal migrants.

Ms Camp is quoted in a USA Today article about the many instances of hard-line immigration legislation that  have been repealed or modified by lawmakers in some states, cities and counties of the USA.

In Greeley, Colorado, a church and a community group have stepped in to help illegal immigrants in their town:

“I feel like they’re here, they’re hungry, and we have a moral imperative to help them,” said Ann Ratcliffe, 65, a Family of Christ Presbyterian Church member. She calls the families picked up in the raid “vecinos” – neighbors.” Immigrant raids often mark start of years of limbo.

And, a couple of weeks ago A Possie in Aussie reported that residents of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa had joined with detainees (who had escaped!) to protest about conditions at the immigration detention camp on their island. 

Under the Howard government, Australia enacted some of the world’s harshest anti-asylum seeker legislation. Polls at the time found that seventy one per cent supported the policy of keeping asylum seekers in indefinite detention (See Burke’s In Fear of Security: Australia’s Invasion Anxiety, Pluto Press.) And yet, once asylum seekers were released from detention on the infamous Temporary Protection Visa,  there was a groundswell of support never seen before from across the Australian population, welcoming the new neighbours.

There are anti-human laws enacted by nation states, and there is the human response which can, and often does, ameliorate the effects of the laws, or even causes them to be repealed. It is an example of the triumph of humanity, but a triumph which relies on contact between residents and asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.

By breaching the laws of the nation, ‘illegal’ immigrants enable us to show ourselves to be human.

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