Jose Robles was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials last month after living in Gethsemane Lutheran Church for over a year, seeking sanctuary from deportation. He had moved to the United States almost 20 years ago, started a small business with his brother in Lakewood, WA and established ties in his community with his family. When he was assaulted at gunpoint during a violent crime last year, Jose came forward and gave his testimony to Lakewood police; in return for his help, Lakewood officials denied his application for a U-1 visa, which is reserved for victims of violent crimes – the same kind of violent crime that Jose had assisted the police in their investigations. So what comes next for Jose Robles and his family?
To say we are living in troubled times is an understatement. It’s easy to look back on history and say you would have recognized the warning signs and acted differently. Time seems to have softened the severity of toxic nationalism since 1945, and we are so self-assured that if it happened again, we would be ready to face it. But it’s happening right now across the United States, in my neighborhood and yours.