Skip to content

When undocumented immigrants tell us they live in fear, we really need to hear them

February 5, 2020

On Monday night, members of Movimiento Cosecha GR and some allies came to the Wyoming City Commission meeting to get them to adopt a resolution in support of the Driver’s Licenses for All.

More than a dozen members of Cosecha addressed the city commissioners about why being able to obtain a driver’s license was so important to them and to the community. Some people addressed the safety aspects of being able to obtain a driver’s license, while some talked about the economic benefits. However, there was one theme that was present throughout most of those who shared their stories, it was the theme of fear.

Undocumented immigrants live in constant fear, especially of law enforcement officials, whether they are local cops or ICE agents working for the Department of Homeland Security. Those who spoke talked about the fear they have of being pulled over by the police and asking for a driver’s license or other forms of identification. This fear exists when they go to work, when they stop off at the grocery store or when they are picking their children up from school.

This fear that immigrants have is well founded and well documented. During the eight years that the Obama administration occupied the White House, some 3 million immigrants were deported. Under the current administration of Donald Trump, the arrest, detention and deportation of immigrants has escalated, along with the racist rhetoric and policies from border walls, increased restriction on who can immigrate to the US, the addition of more ICE agents and the further expansion of state and private detention facilities across the country.

However, despite more than a dozen emotionally charged testimonies from immigrants, government officials told those same immigrants that they shouldn’t fear the police or elected officials

Towards the end of the public comment period, State Rep. Tommy Brann said that he was not there to support or oppose Driver’s Licenses for All, but that the immigrant community should not be afraid to come and speak to him. Really? What has Rep. Brann done to demonstrate that he is an ally to immigrants? Has he introduced legislation that would support Driver’s Licenses for All? Has he introduced legislation that would support Sanctuary Cities or prevent ICE from terrorizing the immigrant community? The truth is that Rep. Brann has not introduced or voted for legislation that would demonstrate that he is committed to immigrant justice.

Then, at the end of the commission meeting, when commissioners have an opportunity to respond to anything that came up during the public meeting, there were two Wyoming elected officials who told immigrants that they should not fear the Wyoming police. Both of these city officials said this after they had just taken part in a ride along with Wyoming cops. The Wyoming commissioners said that Wyoming police have good hearts and that they see no reason why immigrants should be afraid of them.

This display of white privilege was astounding. Were they not listening to the heartfelt statements from the immigrants who had just spoken? Look, if the Wyoming City Commission wants immigrants to trust them, then they need to take action instead of offering advice. The Wyoming City Commission can start winning the trust of immigrants by passing a resolution to support Driver’s Licenses for All. After they adopt such a resolution, they can adopt a policy of total non-cooperation with ICE and then declare themselves a sanctuary city.

Until these things happen, stop telling immigrants how they should feel. Listen to what immigrants are actually telling you. By ignoring immigrant testimony, the Wyoming officials that told them to not fear cops completely dismiss the lived experience of the immigrants who spoke. Licencias sí, promesas no!

%d bloggers like this: