Arrests in New Haven may offer a glimpse of the future

Today's New York Times features a story which vividly highlights the urgent need to change our immigration policy and demonstrates what a tragedy the immigration bill's failure truly is. On the same day that the bill stalled in the Senate thanks to willful and calculated sabotage, federal officials conducted a raid in the town of New Haven. This town had become a safe place for immigrants already living there; "The police adopted a ‘don't ask, don't tell' policy for dealing with immigrants, and the mayor backed a plan for municipal identification cards. Within the borders of this liberal college town, there was hardly a whiff of opposition." Yet at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials swooped in on the town, arresting 31 suspected illegal immigrants, many of them in their homes. From the article:

"Within hours, any sense of sanctuary that the city and advocates for immigrants advocates had developed over the years was turned upside down, replaced with fear.

“There is truly no safe haven for fugitive aliens,” said Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that conducted the raid.

Afterward, local officials’ cellphones lighted up with dozens of frantic phone calls from residents and community leaders saying that people were missing. There were rumors of a mass arrest at a supermarket. Fair Haven resembled a ghost town, with residents huddling inside their houses, afraid that they, too, could be arrested at any moment."

We are at a crucial point in our nation's history where we must choose a vision of America's future. This raid has afforded us an example of one such vision, that of the politicians who worked to undermine the immigration bill, where people are arrested in their homes at the break of dawn and rounded up like cattle while at the supermarket buying food for their families.

Clearly this is the wrong vision. 63% of Americans, and a smaller percentage of the Senators representing them, have another one. With the immigration bill, we had a fleeting glimpse of a different path, one that would have been both more effective and more compassionate; unfortunately, now we may never see more than that.