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  • Writer's pictureElzbieta M Gozdziak

We too have got pens and phones...

The right-wing (they claim to be non-partisan sic!) research organization known as Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has reacted to the now famous quote by President Obama–“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone, and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive action”–with a long backgrounder outlining 79 immigration actions the next president should take. The recommendations suggest, among other things, denying asylum to any forced migrants (my terminology; CIS calls them aliens) who could have sought asylum in countries through which they traveled en route to the United States; limiting Temporary Protective Status to one year; and prosecuting relatives of unaccompanied minors who paid smugglers to get their children to the United States to reunite with families. These are just a few examples of issues that are part of my own research agenda.You can read the full list of the proposed immigration actions here

At this point it is difficult to say which of these points the President-Elect will act on immediately. As the election results were coming in, I was thinking about DACA. It is a low-hanging fruit, and the new president will undoubtedly reach for it. As a professor at a university that educates DACA recipients, immigrant students, and foreign students (many of the latter ones are Muslim), I also worry about their educational prospects, physical safety, and emotional well-being.

As a migration scholar and a migrant myself, I am worried that the new president will listen only to those who want to come down on the immigrant communities like a ton of bricks and destroy any progress in integrating diverse groups of refugees and immigrants into the fabric of the American society. When I sought refuge in the United States some thirty years ago from a Communist Poland, I came to this country because I wanted to be part of a multiracial, multicultural, and multi-religious society.

I still do! But I also see that the diversity of America is under a serious threat. So what are we do do? Like President Obama, we’ve also got pens and phones and can start writing and calling to make sure that we take back Congress in two years–the way Republicans took it in 1994 and 2010–to preserve the American values and fight racism, misogyny, and injustice.

As Thomas Lacroix, a French migration scholar, wrote yesterday, we need to fight the hysteria about migrants and migration with our knowledge about migratory processes and migrant communities. Thomas call us to action: to visit schools, community centers, and publish in local newspapers instead of esoteric migration journals, appear on radio talk shows instead of conference panels. Each reader, each listener, each viewer we can convince that migration is not a plague will bring about a paradigm shift and hopefully change people’s views about us, the migrants.

So let’s reach for our pens and phones to write, to make arrangements to visit schools and preschools, to show solidarity with the Others because they are US!

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