Melting ICE

The United States remains one of only a handful of countries to retain the Fahrenheit temperature system and therefore, we are aware that ice begins to melt as it reaches and moves beyond 32 degrees.  How Daniel Fahrenheit’s system places water’s freezing (and melting) temperature at 32 degrees is a complicated story. The number 32, in numerology (gematriya), is the value of the Hebrew word Lev—the heart. The value of the warmth that melts away barriers and let’s caring, concern and compassion flow.

My 7 year-old daughter this past week came to a revelation—she saw a pattern in some of the Disney movies she watches. She called her insight “replacement” as in when one person (character) in the story offers to “replace”—switch places with another. There is the scene in the film Hercules where the Greek god offers Hades, the Lord of the Underworld to switch places with his love interest (Meg), “You like deals, take me in her place,”  he says. And in Beauty and the Beast, the heroine Belle offers the beast to stay his prisoner in order to free her father. We began to see this theme in many other (Disney) films—she is too young yet to have read the culminating immortal words of Sidney Carlton in The Tale of Two Cities; “It is a far, far better thing I do today, then I have ever done.”

Ice mother and childThe seventh principle of awareness, linked to the Sefirah energy of Chesed—unbounded love, guides us to expand our circle of concern, melt away the differences that separate and wall off emotions that we might otherwise feel towards others and moves us to take action.

There have been many ordinary citizens who have offered refuge to immigrants who fear ICE deportation, there are many religious organizations that have set up areas of refuge. Those on the front lines see their efforts as an updated “underground railroad” and as one man interviewed off camera , who has set up a room in his house for immigrants, stated simply: “This isn’t a moment to stand idly by.”

There have been those throughout history who have adopted a “replacement” moral stance—risking their lives or giving up their lives to save others, even strangers. Who at this point can still turn a deaf ear to the wailing cries of children and their parents separated from each other?

If you want to donate to help those immigrants needing assistance follow this link:


Arielle Levav · June 28, 2018 at 5:57 pm

I love it! Thanks for sharing! I have had a conversation recently about how I perceive the majority of the entrepreneurs in our “free” country are immigrants. These business minded individuals come here with a dream to do better, be better, and in my eyes they are better. They strive for growth, for change, and they don’t follow the herd. By stepping out and showing their individualism they show less ignorance and aren’t dull of arrogance like us privileged Americans. I hope this situation improves for them because I welcome them to our county, for they helped us build it.

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · August 21, 2018 at 10:18 am

Trump lauds ICE at White house event-An ICE white house,indeed, not a place for the newcomer, settler,migrant and outsider. I am a naturalized citizen, who has de iced the streets and hearts of on lookers, as we shout out our voices and beliefs that “every soul matters in our democracy”…as we protest and show up…to make sure we are counted and heard…to not be frozen nor let our democracy become trapped in a perpetual winter of our discontent. Subzero,is when it gets dangerously cold, and we are headed there as a nation.

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · October 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm

The last surviving member of the Nuremberg trials prosecuting team has said Donald Trump committed ‘a crime against humanity’ with the recent family separation policy.
Ben Ferencz, 99, made the comment during a recent interview with outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
The lawyer said it was ‘painful’ when he heard about how the Trump administration had separated more than 2,000 children from their families after they had crossed the US-Mexico border.

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · November 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm

The U.S. Immigration Crisis
by Miguel A. de la Torre
3.67 · Rating details · 6 Ratings · 1 Review
The current immigration crisis on our southern borders is usually debated from a safe distance. Politicians create a fear of the migrant to garner votes, while academicians pontificate on the topic from the comfort of cushy armchairs. What would happen if instead the issue were explored with one’s feet on the ground–what the author calls an “ethics of place”?

As an organic intellectual, De La Torre writes while physically standing in solidarity with migrants who are crossing borders and the humanitarian organizations that accompany them in their journey. He painstakingly captures their stories, testimonies, and actions, which become the foundation for theological and ethical analysis. From this vantage point, the book constructs a liberative ethics based on what those disenfranchised by our current immigration policies are saying and doing in the hopes of not just raising consciousness, but also crafting possibilities for participatory praxis.

“Miguel’s introduction on an ethics of place will surely set academia’s hair on fire. He then eloquently practices what he preaches by inviting the reader into all those places where migrants are suffering–and dying–and struggling for liberation. When anyone asks me about ‘the problem of immigration’ now, I will hand them this compelling book. Be Presente!” — John Fife, Co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement

“Hard-hitting and challenging, The U.S. Immigration Crisis exposes the dark side of current immigration realities. De La Torre puts a human face on biting policy critique by taking his readers to several conflictive places so that they might see the injustices and hear the undocumented tell their tragic stories. This is no neutral analysis, but rather an impassioned effort to redefine the national debate.” — M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas), Blanchard Chair in Old Testament at Wheaton College

“Through the orthopraxis of joining immigrants on their journey in an attempt to understand the rightful faith response to the immigration crisis in the US, De La Torre unpacks history and gives witness to the fact that the immigration from the South into the US should not surprise anyone. Sharing the stories of immigrants he challenges our US arrogance, ignorance, and our collective sinfulness and calls for reparations. De La Torre clearly states what many of us have experienced and come to know over decades of working for US immigration reform, giving us hope.” –Minerva Carcano, Bishop, Los Angeles Area Office, The United Methodist Church

“As it looks at migration from the ground floor, this richly descriptive work not only gives us more information about migration but a new imagination, one rooted in the dignity of each person and the call to human solidarity.” –Daniel G. Groody, University of Notre Dame Miguel A.

De La Torre has authored numerous articles and more than thirty books, including the award-winning Reading the Bible from the Margins (2002); Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America (2004); Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (2014); and Hispanic American Religious Cultures (2009). He presently serves as Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver. He was the 2012 President of the Society of Christian Ethics. (less)

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · November 26, 2018 at 8:20 am

ICE Detention Center Says It’s Not Responsible for Staff’s Sexual Abuse of Detainees

Victoria López, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU National Prison Project
& Sandra Park, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Women’s Rights Project
NOVEMBER 6, 2018 | 1:15 PM
TAGSImmigrants’ Rights and Detention Immigrants’ Rights Violence Against Women Women’s Rights

Detention Center
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government impose criminal liability on correctional facility staff who have sexual contact with people in their custody. These laws recognize that any sexual activity between detainees and detention facility staff, with or without the use of force, is unlawful because of the inherent power imbalance when people are in custody. Yet, one immigration detention center is trying to avoid responsibility for sexual violence within its walls by arguing that the detainee “consented” to sexual abuse.

E.D., an asylum-seeker and domestic violence survivor from Honduras, was sexually assaulted by an employee while she was detained with her 3-year-old child at the Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania. At the time of the assault, E.D. was 19 years old.

She filed suit against the detention center and its staff for their failure to protect her from sexual violence, even though they were aware of the risk. The record in the case, E.D. v. Sharkey, shows that her assailant coerced and threatened her, including with possible deportation, while the defendants stood by and made jokes.

Although the employee pled guilty to criminal institutional sexual assault under Pennsylvania law, the defendants contend that they should not be liable for any constitutional violations. Their argument rests in part on their assessment that the sexual abuse was “consensual” and that they should be held to a different standard because the Berks Family Residential Center is an immigration detention facility rather than a jail or prison.

The ACLU, ACLU of Pennsylvania, and partner organizations filed an amicus brief this week supporting E.D., explaining that officials wield such tremendous control over the lives of those in their custody, including through coercion and exploitation, that consent to sexual contact cannot be freely given in these circumstances. We also discuss how sexual violence in custodial settings is a serious and pervasive issue, including in immigration detention. For many years, the ACLU, various advocacy groups, and immigrants themselves have reported on the unsafe conditions in immigration detention, including sexual violence and the retaliation that detained immigrants face when they decide to come forward with these violations.

A recent investigation into sexual abuse in immigration detention found that there were 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse filed with ICE between 2012 and March 2018. In 2017 alone, there were 237 allegations of sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities.

Other reports include a 2014 complaint documenting widespread allegations of sexual harassment at the Karnes County Residential Center, where more than 500 women were detained with their children. In 2017, advocates filed a complaint on behalf of eight immigrants who recounted their experiences of sexual violence while detained in various ICE detention facilities across the country.

The Government Accountability Office reported in 2013 that officials at immigration prisons and jails failed to report 40 percent of sexual abuse allegations to the ICE headquarters. After looking at 10 different detention centers and analyzing over 70 cases of sexual abuse, researchers found that only 7 percent of 215 allegations of sexual assault in immigration detention facilities from 2009 to 2013 were substantiated, calling into question the thoroughness of investigations as well as reporting and oversight mechanisms.

Sexual violence impacts immigrants across federal agencies that are charged with immigrant detention. Most recently in Arizona, the state’s Department of Health Services, which licenses facilities that are used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement to detain migrant children, moved to revoke the license of Southwest Key, a nonprofit contractor that rakes in about a half a billion dollars to detain migrant children in facilities across the country. The state moved to revoke the group’s license because Southwest Key failed to comply with required employee background checks. At least three former employees have been arrested for sexually abusing migrant children. One was convicted, and one of the facilities was closed down following allegations of staff abusing children.

These are not isolated cases. They clearly show that officials are not doing enough to detect and respond to incidents of sexual abuse in immigration detention. The result is that immigrants are put at serious risk for sexual violence while they are detained.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed by Congress in 2003 to protect against sexual assault in prisons and jails across the country. It took the Department of Homeland Security until 2014 to finalize regulations implementing PREA. Even with those regulations in place, DHS PREA standards do not protect immigrants in all detention facilities because the agency has taken the position that those requirements can only apply when the agency enters into new contracts or renews or modifies old ones.

Rather than meaningfully addressing these endemic problems in immigration detention, the Trump administration continues to aggressively target immigrants and asylum seekers by stripping away legal protections, ramping up enforcement, and expanding immigration detention. E.D.’s case highlights the real need for greater protections against sexual abuse and more robust oversight and accountability measures in immigration detention, not less.

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · January 9, 2019 at 5:10 pm

‘Icebox’ offers chilling tale of young asylum seeker’s journey
Anthony Gonzalez, Matthew Moreno in ‘Icebox’
(CNN)Beyond timely, “Icebox” is a wrenching, harrowing movie about one Honduran boy’s quest for asylum, and the conditions he faces after being apprehended in the United States. Acquired by HBO, the spare project from first-time writer-director Daniel Sawka weds the stark feel and look of a documentary with the emotional wallop that comes from drama.

Working with filmmaker James L. Brooks’ Grace Films, Sawka expanded his American Film Institute thesis short (notably shot in 2016) into a feature, but like his young protagonist, the movie covers an inordinate amount of ground in relatively quick fashion.
The 12-year-old Oscar (“Coco’s” Anthony Gonzalez, whose face speaks volumes) has been forced to work for a drug gang, and now must flee for his life. His parents dispatch him on the journey through Mexico to the U.S., warning him not to trust anyone. The goal is to reach his uncle (Omar Leyva), who is living and working outside Phoenix.
Fear of exploitation and betrayal haunts his every step, eventually forcing Oscar to take off on foot across the desert. That portion of the ordeal, however, runs second to what he faces once taken into custody, thrown into what looks like an industrial warehouse, where the children huddle together to try to find some warmth, literally as well as figuratively.
Oscar makes a friend, but he’s also bullied by a bigger kid, and generally frantic about finding a way out — seeking help from a reporter (Genesis Rodriguez) who tours the facility. The children are separated by chain-link fences, in a cavernous space that Oscar accurately describes as “a big building, full of kids.”
Sawka lets the kids be kids, and when Oscar gets a chance to phone home, just hearing him say “Mommy” — or talk wistfully about going to school — is devastating. So, too, is his explanation for why he can’t return home, simply responding, “Bad people.”
Shot almost entirely in Spanish, a movie like “Icebox” will likely end up merely preaching to the already converted; still, it’s such a sobering look at the immigration system that HBO — even with its reputation for championing progressive causes — deserves praise for recognizing its importance.
Like the best drama, “Icebox” is defined by its humanity, putting a face on asylum seekers in a way news coverage only occasionally does. From that perspective it feels like HBO is performing a public service, even if those who would most benefit from seeing the movie will almost surely be inclined to look away from its chilling message.
“Icebox” premieres Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. on HBO. Like CNN, the network is a unit of WarnerMedia.

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · September 2, 2019 at 7:59 pm

Home, by Warsan Shire (British-Somali poet) no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark.
you only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well.
your neighbours running faster
than you, the boy you went to school with who kissed you dizzy behind
the old tin factory is
holding a gun bigger than his body, you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
no one would leave home unless home chased you, fire under feet,
hot blood in your belly.
it’s not something you ever thought about doing, and so when you did –
you carried the anthem under your breath, waiting until the airport toilet
to tear up the passport and swallow,
each mouthful of paper making it clear that you would not be going back.
you have to understand,
no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.

who would choose to spend days and nights in the stomach of a truck unless the miles travelled
meant something more than journey.
no one would choose to crawl under fences,
be beaten until your shadow leaves you,
raped, then drowned, forced to the bottom of
the boat because you are darker, be sold,
starved, shot at the border like a sick animal,
be pitied, lose your name, lose your family,
make a refugee camp a home for a year or two or ten, stripped and searched, find prison everywhere
and if you survive and you are greeted on the other side with go home blacks, refugees
dirty immigrants, asylum seekers
sucking our country dry of milk,
dark, with their hands out
smell strange, savage –
look what they’ve done to their own countries, what will they do to ours?
the dirty looks in the street
softer than a limb torn off,
the indignity of everyday life
more tender than fourteen men who look like your father, between
your legs, insults easier to swallow than rubble, than your child’s body
in pieces – for now, forget about pride your survival is more important.
i want to go home, but home is the mouth of a shark home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore unless home tells you to
leave what you could not behind, even if it was human.
no one leaves home until home
is a damp voice in your ear saying leave, run now, i don’t know what i’ve become.

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · October 13, 2019 at 11:50 am

On August 7, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents took over a small Mississippi community to arrest 680 mostly Latinx workers. According to reports, this is the largest workplace raid in a decade. We’re calling these ICE raids for what they are – an act of terror. Just days after the El Paso massacre where a gun wielding maniac parroted Trump’s anti-immigrant hate, a battalion of ICE agents abducted 680 Latinx and immigrant men and women on Trump’s orders. Latinx and immigrant kids and families have been terrorized this week. The effect of ripping children from their parents at the border or stealing parents away from their children in Mississippi is the same. We are people going about our lives, working to support our families or going to school at risk.

Moments like this are critical for allyship from American citizens. We’re asking allies to protest at ICE facilities, jails and detention camps to demand:

This will not happen under our watch. We will not allow ICE and CBP agents to terrorize our neighbors, friends and family members any longer. We must march, take the streets, and demand to CLOSE the concentration camps and RELEASE all people detained. Let our people go!

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