Category Archives: Immigration

ICE Cold: Posting a bond at ICE

I have been volunteering and getting trained in sanctuary organizing this past year.  One day a couple weeks ago a message came through the network talking about posting bond for a Hendersonville man who had been detained since an ICE traffic stop last summer. His family had finally raised the $8500 in cash. I offered to help since I was already in Charlotte. The money was deposited into my account. I went to the bank and got a certified check and drive to the DHS offices in Charlotte. I was seen immediately and was able to get my request in to the ICE detention center in Lumpkin. Then I waited for nearly three hours for the request to come back as approved and then to actually post the bond. I was treated respectfully and walked through the process professionally.

During my wait, I observed a woman who was visibly distraught come into the office and go to the window where she was tearfully looking for her husband. She was told that he was here illegally and that he was being detained and deported. She was in visible emotional distress my heart went out to her. Two female DHS officers were called and they escorted her into the waiting room. They asserted that her husband is here illegally and that his case lies with the judge, that being at DHS was a waste of her time. They were unkind and insensitive to the woman was in the midst of a traumatic and life changing event. They kicked the woman out of the building and then came back to the hallway adjacent to the waiting room. We could hear everything they said. I am sad to report that they made fun of the woman. Not only was there no empathy, they expressed great distain for the woman and her experience.

If we are not training DHS officers in handling emotional trauma with therapeutic skills like unconditional positive regard, we are de-humanizing the officers as well as the people they are supposed to serve. I have a friend and co-trainer who is a therapist by training and an activist. When we work together doing racial equity training, she often shares the concept of “unconditional positive regard,” with our students. She shares that she is holding unconditional positive regard for everyone in the room and invites the students to do the same. I have always found that when she does this, the room relaxes a bit and trust is built, which is vital to the work of racial equity training.

The Wikipedia page on Unconditional Positive Regard states that:

“Unconditional positive regard, (UPR) is a concept developed by the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers in 1959, is the basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does, especially in the context of client centered therapy. The central hypothesis of this approach can be briefly stated. It is that the individual has within him or her self vast resources for self-understanding, for altering her or his self-concept, attitudes, and self-directed behavior—and that these resources can be tapped if only a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided.”

Why aren’t our police forces trained in trauma and healing? At the very least, could they try to see the good in people?

Defend DACA: Dreamers Are Our Neighbors

On Tuesday, after the announcement that DACA would be discontinued by the Trump administration, I joined hundreds others in a demonstration at Marshall Park in Charlotte, NC.  I wanted to photo document some of the signs that the many Dreamers made and displayed at the demo. Before I took each photo, I asked each person if it would be ok to take the picture. Every time the answer was yes and every time I was struck by the courageous behind their answer. The kids we call Dreamers are facing deportation, being separated from their families and being dropped into a nation and a culture that, in most cases, they have never encountered directly.  The level of heartbreak was palpable. The courage that it took to even sign up for DACA, to be on record with the federal government as having entered the US illegally, is incredible to me. But then to make a sign, to be visible and to have their photos taken to be posted at random on the internet by a stranger? It was difficult to choke back the tears that kept arising when these kids consented to their photograph being taken. I told them they were beautiful and that they were speaking a powerful truth. If they can take the risk to stand up and speak for themselves, shouldn’t we as legal citizens be willing to risk speaking up, sacrificing our comfort, our money and our spare bedrooms to be there for the Dreamers. Perhaps we can intentionally go out of our way to support these kids.

I encourage you to view the images below mindfully. Do so in silence and take the time to really see and absorb their messages. Make it a meditation, feel the pain and the fear they are facing. Let it move you to take action. The time is now.