Okay, maybe I’m the only one who sees it.
Maybe it’s just a billboard run by local McDonalds restaurants.
But I doubt it.
In the environment that we are in, the political, racial and governmental environment, there isn’t a day that goes by where immigration isn’t in the news.
Temporary Protective Status
Articles about how the United States allowed a grand total of 11 refugees from Syria to immigrate in 2017.
We had that many people for a relatively small breakfast birthday party on Saturday.
So what does McDonald’s do?
They run a series of billboards – I know there are at least two in West Michigan, probably more that have the McDonald’s logo on them. And they have pictures of a couple of the McDonald’s frozen drinks.
What words does it say?
“Have an ICE Day!”
You’re probably thinking, yeah, they are talking about frozen drinks and they want you to have an ICE day. In other words, get yourself one of our ice cold frozen drinks and your life will be better.
But given our current environment, ICE isn’t only about frozen water.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE is about a family from my son’s school who got separated because the dad isn’t allowed back in the United States.
ICE is about one of the pastors our church supports (here in Grand Rapids), having government people show up at his door one night asking to see papers and for him to prove that he is here legally. (He’s Hispanic and he’s a US citizen – so he’s fine).
ICE is about a church in Kalamazoo consulting with attorneys about how they can lawfully keep ICE out of their church because there are people staying in their church who are concerned for their safety at the hands of ICE.
ICE is about 60,000 Haitians who are afraid they will have to face the decision – “I have been here since 2010 and the earthquake that wiped out my city, under temporary protection status, my children who have been born since then are US citizens. What do I do?”
Words mean things.
In certain environments and certain times, words mean different things than they did at a different time. We are in a time where the current government has made ICE a word that means way more than just frozen water.
For thousands if not millions of people in the United States, ICE represents a government agency that can disrupt families, ruin lives, fracture communities.
At best, McDonald’s decision to wish you an ICE day is strictly an advertising choice that wasn’t thought through completely.
At worst, McDonald’s just might be telling us something more.
Come on, McDonald’s, you can do better. You know better.
I know I’m providing hints at how old I am, but how many of you remember the song that starts the TV sitcom, “Gilligan’s Island?” Especially when it comes to the part about the “three hour tour” that lasted way longer?
In 2017, the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security went to visit Haiti to “see for herself” whether things had improved enough to no longer allow the Haitians who are in the United States on emergency status to remain here.
In other words, is there anything in Haiti that they can go back to?
While Gilligan went on a 3 hour tour that got them stranded on an island, apparently, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke could spend four hours in Haiti and determine that things were just fine and that it would be no problem for 60,000 Haitians to show up with no place to live, no job, nothing.
4 hours and a decision that impacts not only the 60,000 Haitians but countless others.
How can you truly analyze the capabilities of a complex and fragmented place like Haiti in four hours?
How can you truly analyze the capabilities of Haiti without spending time in their “used to be Green Belt” that had most of its agriculture wiped out from Hurricane Matthew?
In a place like Haiti with the lack of infrastructure, I can almost guarantee you that Ms. Duke did not come anywhere close to the rural parts of Haiti which are, I’m told, a totally different world than the capital of Haiti, Port Au Prince.
Even the Department of Homeland Security can’t.
So why did they make that decision?
I don’t know, but I have a pretty strong hunch that it has to do with the other decisions that the current administration is making about other immigration issues.
I strongly disagree with Ms. Duke’s assessment of Haiti. I have friends in Haiti who have told me the same thing, some of them in substantially stronger language than I’ve used.
The ramifications for these Haitians who are in the United States, for their children who were born here (and are US Citizens) and for our country and the economic and moral impact are way more significant than most people understand.
I’ll be talking about it more soon and I urge you to talk to people about it, talk to your government representatives. More to come……
It was a four hour tour, not a three hour tour.
But many more people are at significant risk because of that decision and that’s not right.
As my doctor told me (but in a different context). “It’s complicated.”
“There’s nothing to say about Haiti.”
Welcome to what used to be “Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy” and is being reconstructed into “Can We Talk? – Not Easy Questions with No Easy Answers.”
Stay tuned, more changes will be happening soon.