To the editor:
(re: “Care about people — just make sure it’s the right people,” Aug. 1)
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What we are not entitled to is the belittling and dehumanization of others.
Unfortunately, this was the tone of an opinion piece recently published in The Riverdale Press voicing several assaults against, and inaccuracies about, the immigrant community.
So let’s break it down.
While I hardly speak for all Democrats when I say that open borders is not the policy of the party, the recently penned and scathingly xenophobic opinion piece carries a divisive tone that I am not interested in perpetuating. It’s no secret that our immigration system needs an overhaul, and both parties agree. It will take Republicans and Democrats working together to achieve this aim, but the final product must be designed with empathy and respect for human life.
As the author rightfully points out, people across the world waits years to obtain a visa to enter the United States, to claim refugee status here, or to gain American citizenship. However, as a consequence of this inaccessible and back-logged system, people facing immediate danger in their home countries are forced to make treacherous journeys to seek asylum at our borders, as is permitted under federal law.
In fact, the migrants arriving at the southern border are not invaders at all. They are families exercising their right to seek safety in our country.
Furthermore, the language and the way we refer to human beings is in need of a healthy dose of intention and compassion. In “The Banality of Evil,” Hannah Arendt discusses: “I, like many, ask at what point did being a human being become non-sacred? At what point did we allow the hatred to inspire us, rather than the empathy?”
I want to be very clear: No human being is illegal, and should never be referred to as such. When we use language that criminalizes an individual’s personhood, we strip them of their humanity. And as our president has already proven to us, that has the potential to incite violence against members of our communities.
I understand that there is an incredible amount of fear that exists in our country — whether it’s caused by job insecurity, climate change, white supremacy, or a combination of all three. But the solution is never to dehumanize others in an effort to place blame. The solution lies in mutual empathy and compassion for the hardships we all face.
I will end with this: Every member of Senate District 34 is welcome in our community, and deserves to lead a safe and healthy life that is free of discrimination, regardless of their immigration status.
Now, let’s get to work and discuss solutions to our immigration policy.
The author is the state senator representing the 34th District, which includes Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil and parts of Kingsbridge.