Up in Huntsville, there is a nonprofit organization that provides life-altering assistance to immigrants who wound up in Alabama because of domestic violence in their home countries. Besides English, those services are offered in 49 languages: Spanish and French, German and Italian, Russian and Swedish, but also Farsi, Somali, Swahili, Bengali, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Azerbaijani and many others.
That should be the face of America’s immigration policies, firm but humane.
That 6-year-old nonprofit, AshaKiran, is one of Alabama’s largely unsung heroes in the United States’ immigration debates. AshaKiran provides a 24-hour hotline, offers a program called “New Alabamians” that explains our state’s laws and government regulations, and features an emergency shelter, interpretation services, community education events and programs that help them adapt to American culture. The issue isn’t legal vs. undocumented; it’s helping vulnerable people in their time of need.
This week, Gov. Kay Ivey approved a $47,792 grant for AshaKiran, with the grants coming from the U.S. Department of Justice and issued through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
We applaud Gov. Ivey for supporting that nonprofit’s mission.
Ivey could have made a different choice. Immigration is today’s flashpoint in the United States. There is no middle ground, no wave of centrist views urging rational thought. Deportations were so prevalent during Barack Obama’s presidency that critics dubbed him the Deporter in Chief. In 2012 alone, 409,849 immigrants were deported, according to Enforcement and Removal Operations reports from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Deportations under President Trump haven’t sniffed that level. (There were “only” more than 256,000 deportations in 2018.) But Trump’s political showdown over an expanded border wall between the United States and Mexico has kept that flashpoint from subsiding.
For politicians like Ivey -- Republicans in deep-red GOP states that have strong affection for Trump and his policies -- immigration issues aren’t easy to navigate. Her party and a large bloc of her constituency are immigration hardliners: build the wall, deport them all, send more soldiers to border. Humane treatment, particularly of immigrant women, children and those fleeing violence, is rarely a priority. If it were, the separation of mothers from their children at the border wouldn’t have happened.
“Victims of domestic violence deserve caring and professional assistance, regardless of their background,” Ivey said. “I commend AshaKiran for its efforts to make resources available to those who may not traditionally utilize social services due to cultural or language barriers.”
Border security is vitally important. So, too, is an immigration system that works for our nation and upholds America’s enduring and historic relationship with immigrants looking for improved lives and safer homes. Gov. Ivey’s approval of AshaKiran’s grant illustrates how it should be done.