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Whether you are liberal or conservative, Democrat, Republican or independent, most all of us would agree that comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue in this country. With a Congress unwilling or unable to tackle this need for many years, the issue persists unresolved. With that said, another issue has emerged in our new political climate that challenges our American value of respect and humane treatment for all people.

During his campaign Donald Trump demonized immigrants as rapists and drug dealers who are flooding over the border in hordes. This dehumanizing of a group solely on one element of difference, immigration status, is the first step to public tolerance of inhumane treatment of members of this group.

We see this in Connecticut as more and more immigrants who have followed all laws and expectations of them by the U.S. Government, have worked and paid taxes, have opened businesses and employed others, have raised families, bought homes, sent their children to college and become the kind of neighbor anyone would welcome… have one by one been threatened with deportation and family separation.

We see this in the Trump administrations policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the border with no regard of the human trauma imposed through harsh and abrupt separation, harsh and inadequate care while in detention and failure to reunite them with their families in a timely way. At this time over 1,800 children remain in U.S. custody and the number is growing.

We see every day more and larger detention facilities opening where immigrant adults and children are now being held indefinitely, inhumanely with no plan or procedures in place to resolve individual cases.

What we have learned is that elections matter. America’s leadership in the world as a country that values human rights – our moral authority – is sadly diminished by this administration’s blatant inhumane treatment of immigrants.

On Nov. 6 Connecticut voters will have a choice. It is each citizen’s responsibility to know which candidates best represent the values of our American ideals and vote accordingly. We are better than this!

Joan Means lives in New Haven.

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