Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Things you shouldn't have to explain to a seven-year-old

You have probably heard that immigration officers are conducting raids around the country, looking for people who have been ordered deported, and that they are also sweeping up a lot of others not on their lists. Well, we had a major wave of such raids in my neighborhood late last week (here's a local newspaper report on it, quoting the principal of my son's school).

Officials were arresting people who had not previously gotten their notice—folks who did not have deportation orders or overstayed visas. The immigration agents were, by reputable testimony, talking their way into homes unrelated to their warrant lists and arresting those who couldn't prove their citizenship, as well as accosting passersby to do the same.

Bad enough, all that, and that it made so many frightened families keep their kids cloistered at home. My son was afraid for many of his friends, including one in particular who, although his family is of Pacific Islander descent, I'm sure are citizens. But one evening I discovered that he had even been asking my wife whether she would be arrested soon... because she was born in Florida.

How can I tell him that he need not fear—that this isn't a police state, that nobody will ever stop him at random and demand to see his papers?


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