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    Standing Upon ‘Generations of Strength’ of Pride Against Unjust Immigration Policies

    By Andrea Shorter–

    It is Pride in San Francisco. There is nothing like celebrating LGBTQ Pride in the City, and in our sister Bay Area communities from Oakland to San Jose. Together, we welcome millions of visitors from nearly every corner of the earth, with every state of the union arriving to get their Pride in this epicenter of LGBTQ liberation and inclusion.

    We come together not only to honor the pathways forged, and being forged, toward full equality for LGBTQ persons in society, in our communities and workplaces, but we also come together to raise our voices to help lead the way toward greater peace, safety and justice for all, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, country of origin or citizenship status. If there is a civil and human rights movement that has at its heart a fervent belief, faith and hope for the compassionate treatment of each person as whole and worthy of love, respect and dignity, it is the LGBTQ liberation movement.

    As we come together to parade, to march and just to have a joyous time commemorating the overwhelming odds overcome thus far to secure hallmark achievements for civil marriage equality and greater inclusion in the workplace, we also come together to strengthen resistance against those forces that seek to divide us against our better aspirations, truth and ideas of what it means to be American. The fact that we can gather together en masse to enjoy our freedoms of speech and expression for LGBTQ equality out loud and proud is a right of fact that we must appreciate, protect and project as one of the most cherished tenants of what it means to be American.

    Speaking out against the unjust policies and practices of an administration led by an empathically and ethically depleted pathological liar and blamer-in-chief is a non-partisan responsibility. The abject cruelties and blatant harm to us all by this administration’s phony immigration, asylum and anti-sanctuary policies being manifest into very real actions taken in our name as Americans demand our attention and action as LGBTQ people.

    Before I go much further, let me be very clear—this is not a Bay Area, crunchy lefty, bleeding heart plea for laissez faire indifference to secure, safe and fair immigration and border policies. Let’s face it. Our immigration and border policies have been in need of improvement for some time. United States immigration and border politics are complex, and I don’t portend for a moment to be expert about the matter as a whole.

    The economic, political, and even physically logistical challenges of exacting policies pleasing to a majority of Americans—particularly voters—have all but paralyzed any meaningful republican, democratic, or bi-partisan action on the matter. There are better fact-based reasons with greater merit than the propaganda and pablum being peddled for political sport. Meanwhile, it is through the disarray of this political paralysis of sorts that allowed just enough runway for this President to drive a tank stockpiled with populist cultural war weaponry. 

    After a few years of testing and sharpening his political chops as the star sideshow barker of a manufactured birther scheme to discredit the ascending and eventual first Black POTUS, the man who would be President eventually descended from his gaudy golden escalator to purposefully and shockingly declare Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers in his announced bid to be Commander in Chief. The red meat alert was loud and clear: xenophobia will be alive and on the prowl in his dangerously perverse version of a post-Obama America.

    Returning America to a fictional, fantastical glorious greatness of a dominant white, Christian majority rule over the impending doom of an all too fast-moving majority-minority population of brown, black, yellow and anybody in-between suspected of corrupting a rightly order of a dreamy, puritanical, conservative Anglo-nation is the presumed Presidential prerogative. 

    With an isolationist, protectionist and authoritarian savior complex expressed in an ambitious promise of building a “great wall” (never to be paid for by Mexico) as equally monument to self as it is proclaimed protection of the greatness of America against exaggerated accounts of legions of brown Catholics threatening to pollute and dilute aspirations of Anglo majority, pulling out all the stops to make America impervious to intrusive impurities particularly from south of the border is presented as referendum, as mandate.

    This false referendum is now manifesting itself in the cruelest of “zero tolerance” immigration policies and practices, most egregiously demonstrated by the forced separation of at least 2,000 children from their parents and guardians while crossing our borders. Displayed before us are newscasts and reports of the ripping of families apart, promoted not only in the name of laws that do not exist, but also with the added insult to injury of invoking misinterpreted biblical passages to justify this shame. Same or similar passages have been similarly used to justify slavery, subjugation of women, homophobia, manifest destiny and other wholly unjust terrors and sanctioned tyranny. The insertion of any theocratic doctrine, misguided or not, into our democracy to justify unjust laws of any kind, real or unreal, calls for resistance.

    Ultimately, the art of the deal in play here is holding these ripped apart families as hostage, as leverage to force the hands of resistors into agreeing to build that promised great wall. Further, it is used to fuel the November elections of Trump loyalist Republicans to maintain majority in the congress. This is nothing less than an exhibition of thuggery and extortion of the highest order: inhumane, ruthless and unforgiving.

    Simultaneously, “zero tolerance” is also being applied to turn away asylum-seekers fleeing violence, such as domestic violence, gang rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation and trafficking. Given that the majority of these asylum-seekers are women and children, the egregiousness of criminalizing all migrant border crossers is of critical concern. As a community that welcomes LGBTQ people seeking asylum from persecution and threat of death, the clamp down on asylum policies should also sound an alarm.

    We want safe, secure and fair immigration policies. Lawful protections based on real, fact-based threats against actual criminality—not exaggerated, hyperbolic claims of Hispanic gangs marauding every school house and main street corner—are one thing. Cruelly ripping families apart, warehousing children in fenced cages and turning away legitimate asylum seekers as a proposed deterrent to migration, for political leverage, and as a distraction from the myriad of other catastrophes consuming this President and his administration, are all together another very ugly thing. This is disgraceful. We are better than this.

    Pride is infused with, and born of, the spirit of resistance. The resiliency of that resistance from “generations of strength” is needed beyond protecting ourselves from homophobia and transphobia. That resilient spirit should extend toward standing against the xenophobic laden, purely politically motivated policies and practices. As we march, coalesce and reignite our movement, let us make sure that our voices are among the growing chorus demanding a just end to this cruelty and harm to us all.

    Andrea Shorter is a Commissioner and the former President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights, and marriage equality. A Co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.