Presents and Presence


The holiday season connotes joy, warmth, and togetherness for most American families, regardless of religious affiliation. I have never been a very religious person, and yet I look forward to the months of November and December as I know I will spend quality time with my family, eating delicious meals and perhaps opening a couple of presents.

We must not, however, put on the figurative horse blinders of privilege and forget that many families are not as fortunate and are suffering greatly despite this season of pervasive joy.

Just as it was hard to fully enjoy Thanksgiving amidst the atrocities of the Standing Rock protests, it is nearly impossible to immerse fully in the togetherness of the holiday season with so many families like ours being kept apart.

Immigration courts around the the United States are becoming increasingly and overwhelmingly inundated with cases of desperate people seeking asylum and fighting deportation. Even though judges are rushing through these cases, like a judge in Arlington, Virginia who opened 85 cases in one day, the United States courts are still choked up with upwards of 520,000 cases waiting to be heard.

Fearing for their lives in their home countries, many come to America seeking safety for themselves and their families. Despite the need to expedite these urgent cases, many of them are postponed for years. In Arlington some cases are set to be heard in 2022. The individuals and their families are thus forced to live fearing for their lives or questioning whether their families will be separated in the future.

This widespread anguish is in stark contrast to the stereotypical image of the American holiday season, with the whole family smiling peacefully around the fire.

President-elect Donald Trump’s policy plans will most like exacerbate the already distressing situation. As we all know, Trump plans to deport as many as 3 million immigrants. He also hopes to freeze federal hiring, which would prohibit the addition of new clerks and judges to the federal courts. A lack of sufficient federal judges and a forced mass exodus will only add to the existing problem and make it much, much worse.

I do not mean to ruin the holiday season with these painful facts; all I hope is that we can all enjoy the holidays and open our gifts while remaining present about truths in our country. Being naive about American issues is not an option when it comes to the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of families and individuals who all simply want the safety and togetherness we all take for granted.

While you spend time with your family or whoever is around you during the holiday season, please remain aware of those who are seeking safety and keep them in your thoughts; they need all the help they can get.

– Ali Hurst – Asst. Castoff Editor –