On May 24th, 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided a local Ann Arbor restaurant* next to the University of Michigan campus. ICE agents went in with a warrant for single man, but arrested three to five others, including a Legal Permanent Resident. The community was angry that the agents had the gall to **eat the food *prepared by the staff and then arrest them — yet in many ways, this is an apt metaphor for perceptions of immigrants in the contemporary United States: We welcome your labor, but we do not welcome you.
While the thought of eating an omelet and then arresting the cook is abhorrent, I am struck by a process happening over and over in our country: The use of a single warrant to arrest anyone “suspected” of being undocumented. This amounts to legalized racial profiling. My doctoral research similarly focused on a home raid in which many Latinos were arrested although only a single individual was the alleged target.
At times like these, academic writing feels too constrained to cut to the core of the suffering we witness. For me, I turn to other forms of writing — poetry, prose, short stories — to capture what a peer-reviewed article cannot. This poem is a compilation of experiences of the raid I studied for years of my life and of this most recent raid on May 24th.
**Take Action: **I worked closely with the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights to gather data for my dissertation research and continue to collaborate with them whenever possible. I support the Washtenaw ID Project, the first government issued ID in the Midwest, in their efforts to bring photo-identification to everyone in the county. Increasingly, immigration status, for which lack of ID is often used as a proxy, is used to restrict resources access to immigrant communities. The Washtenaw ID is one way to disrupt these inequitable systems of resource distribution, as discussed in my recent article in Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. I invite you to support our efforts.
William Lopez is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the National Center for Institutional Diversity and School of Social work at the University of Michigan. He is the son of a Mexican immigrant mother and Texan father. He grew up in San Antonio, TX, before acclimating to the Midwest in Indiana, where he received his BA in psychology at the University of Notre Dame. William returned to Texas to receive his MPH at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston while working at a homeless services center and getting his first taste of qualitative work in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His mixed-methods work focuses on the effects of immigration policy on local Latino communities, specifically considering the health effects of immigration home raids. William’s work has been featured in Pacific Standard, The Conversation, and Nature.
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