ANDREW MOSS – What John Lewis did by describing democracy as an act was to expand the discussion of democracy from issues concerning governmental institutions and political norms to questions of individual ethical choice. Democracy, he helped us understand, is choosing to see truthfully and humanely. It is choosing to act responsibly on the basis of that vision. And sometimes acting in this way will take great courage: to endure the blows of state troopers, as Lewis did in a 1965 march for voting rights; or, years later, to risk deportation and speak out as undocumented (or temporarily documented) individuals in order to claim full rights as human beings – and as fellow Americans.
ANDREW MOSS – It’s easy to say, “our immigration system is broken.” Or to declare: “we are a nation of immigrants.” But neither description goes very far to explain the realities of immigration and immigration policy in America. To get closer to the reality, you need a more sharply focused statement â€“ something like the following: “we are a nation in a long-standing struggle over immigration, a struggle that reaches back to the founding of this republic.”
ANDREW MOSS – Benefits to the economy If negotiations in Congress open a path to citizenship this year for the roughly 10.2 million undocumented immigrants in America, have received a fair measure ofÂ attentionÂ in theÂ media, but what hasn’t received as much attention is how an opened path to citizenship will also strengthen American democracy.
ANDREW MOSS – The Biden administration’s support of an appeal of an earlier U.S. District Court ruling that largely upheld a 2019 California law mandating the phase-out of private immigration detention facilities in the state constitutes a serious mistake. It’s not just a matter of the fact that this legal position contradicts Biden’s expressed commitments to end private prisons and detention facilities; it also continues support for a dark and destructive side of our immigration policies.
ANDREW MOSS – The Biden administration has made some admirable moves and gestures toward addressing the immense challenges posed by climate-related migration. But it hasn’t adequately educated the American people about the issue.
ANDREW MOSS – One of the most pronounced areas of inequity of the pandemic involves frontline essential workers in such fields as public transport, food manufacturing, health care, postal work, retail, and grocery work. There are necessary and feasible ways of mitigating such inequalities in the short-term, but, as with any injustice, achieving short-term mitigations doesn’t come without struggle.
ANDREW MOSS – For many people, the thought of this November’s general election inspires anything from apprehension to outright dread. Writing in the Atlantic recently, Adam Harris warned of a “voting disaster,” as historic forms of voter suppression disproportionately affecting minority voters (precinct closures, long waiting lines, onerous restrictions on vote-by-mail balloting) are now colliding with the immense challenges of conducting the election during a pandemic.
ANDREW MOSS – Albrecht Durer’s woodcut, “The Four Horsemen” (1498), which represents scripture’s Four Horsemen — conquest, war and violence, famine, and death, continues to startle, displaying the horsemen’s combined energies, and inspires thought about the collective energies of our own apocalyptic horsemen: economic oppression, racism, militarism, and environmental injustice.
ANDREW MOSS – As the struggle for immigrant rights continues to be fought across America, new battlegrounds may come into view, then fade from public attention. What hasn’t yet come to full attention, however, is the struggle over the future of immigration detention itself, a conflict whose outcome may have far-reaching consequences for immigration reform in years to come.
ANDREW MOSS – For the most part, major news organizations like the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times have provided comprehensive, accurate coverage of major immigration-related developments. Significant policy changes and their impacts on people have been presented with careful regard for both detail and larger issues. This is as it should be. Nevertheless, coverage often falls short in underplaying a critical dimension of unfolding events: the extraordinary depth and breadth of resistance to the Trump administration’s policies.
ANDREW MOSS – Considering the magnitude and urgency of human suffering involved in the situation of asylum seekers, the larger task ahead will be to foster a rights awareness that will lead to genuine, substantive change in the foreseeable future.
ANDREW MOSS – If you’ve been repelled by the family separations and other immigration-related cruelties perpetrated by the Trump administration, and if you plan to watch either or both of the upcoming Democratic presidential debates, please listen carefully â€“ not just to what the candidates are saying, but how they’re saying it: how they frame the issues. Will they present immigration as a discrete set of concerns (“fixing our broken immigration system”), or will they describe it in relation to broader historical struggles, distinctly American struggles, for human rights?
ANDREW MOSS – If you look back over the Trump administration’s handling of immigration during the past two-and-a-half years, you’ll see a pattern of chronic tension and dysfunction. Like many people, you may have apprehended the pattern as a series of specific emergencies and dramatic events: the declaration of an “invasion” at our borders; the shutdown, or threatened shutdown, of our government or our southern border; the separation of migrant families crossing the border; the forced resignation of government officials unable to fulfill the president’s demands for ever-harsher measures.
ANDREW MOSS – If the Democratic candidates hope to offer a comprehensive vision of what our immigration policy should be, it’s imperative that they shift the debate from sloganeering about the wall and “open borders” to a consideration of an underlying question: What priorities and values will guide our immigration policy in the coming years? Will we continue along the present path of increased militarization and incarceration, or will we forge policies guided by a vision of a more just society?
ANDREW MOSS – How do we transition from being a republic of fear to being an exemplar for other nations wrestling with issues of migration? And how, in redefining our identities as individuals and as a nation, do we come to see the border not as a site of separation and of threats, but as a place of coming together, as a site of possibility and creativity?
If you scan the Internet for immigration-related news stories following the Trump administration’s May 7 announcement of its “zero tolerance” border policy, you’ll find the word “chaos” coming up time and time again.
ANDREW MOSS – Carving a path to citizenship for the Dreamers is important and necessary, but it’s only one step in a comprehensive reform that will, among other things, remove criminalization from all 11 million undocumented people in the country and abolish the iniquitous for-profit detention centers. Moving reform forward will require leaders with the vision and eloquence to show that protecting immigrants’ rights means protecting all our rights â€“ and that the struggle for economic justice is inextricably bound up with the struggle for immigration justice. This is both the opportunity and the challenge.
ANDREW MOSS – Though Donald Trump failed to get his wall funded when Congress passed a recent $1.1 trillion federal spending package, he did succeed in creating a wall of sorts. Fashioned partly out of words and partly out of existing physical structures and technologies, Trump’s wall has effectively cast a shadow of fear over the 11.1 million people living in the U.S. without the requisite papers signifying citizenship or legal residence. This shadow accompanies them wherever they go in their daily lives. But this metaphoric wall not only serves to incite fear; it also helps to exacerbate inequality.
ANDREW MOSS – When silent complicity prevails, the gates to authoritarianism are opened wide. Yet the choice to speak on behalf of the other can still be exercised if citizens act in time. In such choosing we can see not only the movement of the individual conscience. We can also see how democracy itself â€“ the culture and institutions sustaining human rights â€“ can be kept alive as well.
ANDREW MOSS – Donald Trump can hardly sustain a movement as a “cure” or unifier. Something much deeper has to be involved, and that something is nothing less than the reclamation of our democracy and the democratic promise of the American experiment.
ANDREW MOSS – You don’t have to be a poet to breathe new possibilities into an old, familiar metaphor. Recently, for example, author and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman took a well-worn metaphor â€“ the “web” â€“ and reworked it in such a way as to recast the terms of the current presidential campaigns. His take is both provocative and wrong.