Diego Ismael Puma Macancela, a 19-year-old high school student in Ossining, N.Y., was detained and is scheduled for deportation to his native Ecuador. His arrest took place one day after the arrest of his mother who brought him here illegally while he was still a minor two years ago.
Puma Macancela was arrested on the day of his prom and just days before his high school graduation ceremony.
The arrest of Puma Macancela, a successful student who also held two jobs: one at the local McDonalds and another at a restaurant, was followed by a wave of support. His high school, community, relatives, immigration activists, immigration lawyers, Washington politicians and nearly 20,000 people Online support his cause.
Lawyers representing Puma Macancela have filed for a stay of removal. They also asked that authorities grant him one more year in the United States so he could finish high school and become a certified mechanic.
Puma Macancela didn’t break any law. Even his “illegal” presence in the United States isn’t his fault: he was brought here by his mother as a minor. The mother – in spite of the family’s financial hardship – tried to establish their legal status in America: she lost her fight for asylum, didn’t fail to pursue it. (She was financially unable to continue the fight.) The kid is obviously a champion, being able to catch up with high school curriculum in a foreign to him language and graduating on time… (How many American kids can you think of who could compete with Puma Macancela?….)
Long story short, Puma didn’t do anything wrong. He has done plenty right. He didn’t – and doesn’t – pose a threat to America or Americans. One has to wonder how he made ICE’s priority for removal list. (Didn’t President Trump emphasize that “murderers and rapists” are priority for deportation? Didn’t President Trump express his support for “Dreamers”?)
We don’t have a horse in this race. But it seems wrong that in the Country created by illegal immigrants (the Pilgrims!), the Country where we made ourselves legal, others are denied this opportunity. That in the Country built on achievement and overcoming, an achiever is prosecuted.
We may not know the details of the current immigration law, but we know history and that’s why we thought that it might be appropriate to reprint a statement released by Anne Frank Center For Mutual Respect – a statement by its executive director, Steven Goldstein – on Facebook the other day. (Incidentally, we don’t understand the words in Hebrew: we are not Jewish, just human.)
“Tonight, we honor the memory of Anne Frank with the Statue of Liberty nearly in our grasp. We are among the blessed ones, and Anne Frank was not.
Twice on the eve of the Holocaust, the United States denied the Frank family’s application to immigrate to the United States. Again and again, America said no to Jewish refugees, as our government proposes to say no to refugees today.
Now wait. No one is comparing any policies today to the Shoah, a singular atrocity in human history. Am Yisrael Chai.
But we cannot ignore the parallels between pre-Holocaust Europe, and developments in the contemporary world.
The spiraling stages begin with demonization. Second, discrimination. Third, isolation. And unless we stop the spiral, well, that fourth and final step.
Just as you wouldn’t want a doctor to wait until stage four to diagnose cancer, you wouldn’t want an organization like ours to wait until stage four of inhumanity – genocide – to warn America of the potential worst.
When there is an 86 percent increase in Antisemitism in America in 2017, never again to the Jewish people!
When our government proposes an unconstitutional ban on refugees, never again to Muslim people!
When our government does nothing to stop the genocide of a million Nigerians by Boko Haram, never again to African people!
When our government stands idly by the emerging genocide of gay men in Chechnya, never again to LGBT people!
When our government sells arms to nations that view women as the property of men, never again to women everywhere!
In the Talmud, Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I?”
Who are we if we turn away vulnerable refugees fighting for their lives?
Who are we if we slam the door on the immigrants who made America great in the first place?
At the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, we don’t see illegal aliens.
We see human beings.
And behind every human being, we see a history.
That’s why we’re the leading the way in fighting for mandatory genocide education in all 50 states.
That’s why we work with Congress to overhaul a federal hate crimes system that doesn’t come close to protecting the oppressed.
And that’s why we have a rapid response system to go into communities ravaged by acts of prejudice to help those communities heal.
We respond immediately. Why? When you wait to condemn hate, you normalize its fate!
Friends, we will not allow America to be pushed off the moral cliff.
Who will stand up for the 4th grader in Arizona targeted by U.S. Immigration just because she was born elsewhere? We will!
Who will stand up for the Syrian grandmother detained at JFK simply because of her faith? We will!
And who will call out our government when it propagates fear of the vulnerable and hate of the oppressed? We will!
If we are to honor the legacy of Anne Frank, we must see the choices before us, and the moral choices to make.
The moral choice insists…
L’olam lo od, never again in Hebrew!
Layees-sah moo-jah-dah-daan, never again in Arabic!
Aylevs yerpek, never again in Armenian!
Bo-le-sheh nikog-da, never again in Russian – and Chechen!
In the universal language of love, we proclaim Never Again to anyone…
with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you, and God bless.”
Just something to think about. We were wrong before. If we weren’t, no one would know Anne Frank’s name. It wasn’t supposed to be Republicans vs. Democrats. We were supposed to be Americans (and human beings), FIRST.
Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich