Arrested Development

Dreamers Adrift > Undocublog

Back in 2004, near the beginning of the second season of the best show ever on television, there was a plot involving the hiring of a bounty hunter to seek out the escaped father of the main characters. The show is renowned for extremely clever and subtle references to current events (such as the Iraq war) and foreshadowing.

Beware of loose seals

This particular episode involved the main characters seeking out a bounty hunter named Ice who was hired to find their father who had illegally immigrated to Mexico. The funny parallel, most likely unintentional, is that the same year that this show was premiered, Immigrations Customs and Enforcement (ICE) had come to exist under the then new Department of Homeland Security. Their ten year goal was to hunt down and deport every undocumented person in the United States.

What their goal actually should have been

A skillful poet could have a field day with all the puns between ICE and their intentions. The warmth of undocumented love melting the cold ice water that runs through their veins. The fiery passion for rights versus the cold and dull immorality of obeying an unjust law blindly. A skillful poet would have a good time.

What’s also interesting is that Ice (from the show) was a black man. The character’s race had absolutely nothing to do with his character or role in the show. But it’s interesting to note if only to further draw out the parallel with ICE since most agents I’ve often seen and interacted with, are people of color. And it’s such a weird hypocrisy. But maybe that is because I do see this immigration “debate” as one that is racially driven, a fear of a non-white America, where as they clearly refuse to acknowledge it. It’s also financially driven, but the profiteers are hardly ever people of color either. So it’s a curious thing and it drives me to want to talk to ICE officers more candidly about what they think of all of this.

Though I'm not great at conversation

Closest I ever got was questioning my officer on why they jail people who cannot afford their own deportation plane tickets, when another officer told me they were just following the law and I muttered out “legality is a funny thing.”

Growing up undocumented, you feel like you hardly grow up. You remember being 22 and still asking for rides and still asking for money to go out from your parents. Sometimes I used to wonder what the differences were between me at 22 and me at 12. It didn’t feel that much different. I felt inhibited in my growth.

So when I first interacted with ICE, I felt relieved. I felt like I had finally come to a head with what I had always dreaded and being confined to my impotent social situation meant I finally ran out of excuses. I was not putting my family in danger by confronting my status because they had come to me; so now it was just a matter of defense. When those handcuffs were placed on me outside of my home in the early dawn of September, I felt a little freer. Such is the unexpected effect of cold, hard justice.

So the more they arrest us, publicly, the more it inadvertently helps us. The more it ignites us into action. The more it frees us from the unknown qualities of what might happen. This is why that mayor in Alabama denied that any of those arrested in the November demonstration were, in fact, undocumented at all. Why would he deny that? What did he fear? They are undocumented. It’s not like anyone cares if an undocumented lawbreaker breaks yet another law. And then they get arrested for it? Why would anyone care? Enough to want to hide what they are doing, if what they are doing makes so much sense?

It’s because they know what we don’t know: that there are more people on our side than theirs. And that most people see through the veil of “lawbreaking” to the purpose of the lawbreaker. Where as before, I felt perpetually stunted as an individual by my status, now my disobedience develops the pathway to growth. Arrested development.

 

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