I’m sorry I prayed for your deportation

I’m sorry I prayed for your deportation to happen.

Well, I did a lot more than pray for your deportation to happen. I did everything I could to make it happen.

Because that’s what you and your family asked me to do. And, really, it’s what I wanted to do too.

I called the ICE office.

And I called the Consulate.

And I searched and searched and searched for airline tickets.

Because you wanted to get out of that hell hole.

Because deportation was preferable to the alternative: infection, quarantine, isolation, death.

One day hopefully — we’ll look back and see the infection rate of COVID19 in prisons, jails and detention centers throughout the US as a global shame. Our national addiction to incarceration has lead us to have more people behind bars than any other country in the world. And with 9,400 documented cases of COVID19 in jails and prisons — a number that doesn’t even consider cases in detention centers — there are more COVID19 infections among people behind bars in the US than among the entire population of the country you are about to be deported to.

So I prayed you’d be deported to somewhere that wasn’t a tinderbox of infectious disease. To somewhere in which the fear of infection didn’t hang so thickly in the air that it lead to hunger strikes and riots.

It makes sense that your family would want to get you out of there. And, as a public health researcher and, well, your friend, that’s what I wanted too.

That’s not why I’m angry. That’s not why I’m sorry.

I’m sorry because I know that this is how systems of cruelty work.

They invent new forms of violence so reprehensible that the previous norm becomes acceptable. This has been the President’s primary way of operating. Children and parents were separated and caged at the border. Entire communities were turned upside down with massive work site raids we hadn’t seen since 2008.

And with each newly invented cruelty, mass, silent deportation became the preferable alternative.

But this one is a new one, a new cruelty, a new low for our country. They have to die behind bars, we say, because what if we let them out and nothing happens? What if we shrink our jail population and our country doesn’t fall into chaos? What if our entire system of incarceration is shown to be a sham? No, better to let them die. If a few prison guards go down with them, so be it.

Now, as I post this, you are in the air. You are flying over us to a country you haven’t been to in two decades. And when you land, they will ask you if you are a citizen of that country, and since you were born there, they’ll let you in, where you will then be quarantined for 14 days. Had you been born here, in the US, they wouldn’t let you in. They aren’t letting us in. They don’t want to catch what we have.

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