“Shame on Me,” Says Police Chief
Distress signals are coming from Pacific County on the Washington coast. One came from Police Chief, Flint Wright, of Long Beach, Washington. In a televised interview (which I’ve not been able to find on-line), Wright who describes himself as a strong conservative said, “Shame on me,” for voting for Donald Trump. Why? Because friends and neighbors are disappearing now from Pacific County. They are being swept up in ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) raids.
Wright didn’t imagine these were the people Trump was talking about. He thought that Trump would be going after rapists, criminals and drug dealers, “bad hombres” not his friend Mario Rodriquez. Rodriquez had lived in the community for a dozen years, was an ESL teacher, a strong supporter of law enforcement and was studying to become a full-time teacher. But Trump has broadened the guidelines for deportation to extend to most anyone who is not documented.
Linda and I have some knowledge of Pacific County. In the southwest corner of Washington State, Pacific County is a combination of coastal range mountains, beaches and tidal flats. For many years Linda’s brother has lived there and farmed oysters. Shellfish is one of the biggest parts of the economy in Pacific County, along with cranberries and some logging. But finding labor, my brother-in-law tells me, is becoming a problem now with Trump’s deportation program in effect.
Nan Malin, a longtime Republican party activist in Pacific Country is also distressed by what is happening — and by her vote for Trump. “We shouldn’t be ripping families apart,” said Malin. “It seems very Gestapo.”
None of these Trump supporters foresaw what is now happening in their close-knit community. Families are being broken up. People are disappearing. Members of the community are gone. “I was short-sighted,” confessed Chief Wright, “Shame on me.”
Arguments can be made for enforcing the law. But the problem is that the immigration laws have been selectively enforced or ignored for many years. So suddenly enforcing the immigration laws in a draconian way delivers results that are not only inhumane but stupid.
I was struck by Chief Wright’s honesty. “Shame on me,” he repeated several times in the interview, acknowledging that he had not though through his vote for Trump. How many others have said or thought that? How many others will be saying it in the days, weeks and years to come?
The other aspect of all this that is striking to me is that the Republicans, while wrapping themselves in the “law and order” mantra since Nixon, have also claimed to be the small government people. They have objected to the long and intrusive arm of the federal government.
Well, maybe “intrusive government” is only a problem for these folks when it is messing in their own business. Otherwise, intrude away. What the people in Pacific County are discovering is that their “business” includes people they had never in their wildest dreams imagined would be targets. This article reports on the efforts of people in Pacific County to help those friends and neighbors and the families they have left behind.