Bending That Arc A Tad (Maybe)

Yesterday afternoon I had the extraordinary good fortune to show up at two trials at the Moakley Courthouse, both trials dealing with immigrant justice. A former journalist, I would have preferred to offer a carefully-written, researched and cogent report about my experience. But for a number of reasons, the chief one being that at the first trial, the young attorney representing the defendant, Donald Trump (Yup!), spoke so rapidly and so frequently dropped his voice at the end of his rapid-fire sentences as to make his arguments incomprehensible. (He seemed to have a bad cold, too. That didn’t help.) Also, duh, I’m not a lawyer. So, sorry, Readers, the best I can offer is impressions and “feels,” as my daughter, Hope, says. ( I can offer some hope, too.)

The first trial was held in Courtroom 11 which was packed, so standing-room-only that one of the immigration-rights lawyers asked the judge, a Woman of Color, if those people standing out in the hallway might be allowed to come inside and sit where a jury might ordinarily sit. She, someone whose own ancestors had for years been denied a jury of their peers or, if attending a trial, had been shunted off to sit in segregated seating, agreed. Thus a group of brown and black-skinned men and women from Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras silently filed into the courtroom to fill the two rows of jury seats. The “optics” couldn’t have been better!

And what was this first trial about? It pitted a coalition of immigrant-rights lawyers/plaintiffs against a defendant who’s decided to send Temporary Protection Status (TPS)  people back to their countries of origin. And, no, everyone seemed to agree, these people were probably not a national security threat. “Why are you pursuing this?” the judge asked MotorMouth at least twice. (He’d presented first.) If he had a cogent answer as to why the president has rescinded TPS, I didn’t hear it.

But his “brothers” at the next table offered an explanation: (The opposing lawyers referred to each other as “brothers.” The all-female-attorneys at the second trial called the women on the other team “sisters.”) “Racial Discriminatory Animus,” the immigration-rights lawyers declared more than once, pure and simple and appalling.  Trump has made his abhorrent feelings/animus toward immigrants crystal-clear. Which is why he’s the defendant in this case.

There was lots more, of course. Numerous references to other cases; how the defendant has misread the original TPS law—and what “intervening events” really means; lots about procedure and jurisdiction and (I sure hope I got this right) how the president willy-nilly changed a law without proper notification and allowing the public to comment on this New Rule. And how He Can’t Just Do That! (If, indeed, I understood this correctly, it gives me shivers. Because I’m pretty sure this is what happened in Nazi Germany when, incrementally, things slowly changed without fanfare.)

The trial ended precisely at 3:00 with the judge promising to consider all she’d read and heard. So stay tuned.

The second trial—which I only found out about because I’d gotten on the wrong elevator and someone I know was on it and urged me to join her—featured a law firm of young women representing a Brazilian mother who’d entered this country in Arizona  and who has been separated from her nine-year-old-son for forty-three days. The mother’s lawyers demanded that the government reunite this mother, currently in Massachusetts (although I don’t know how or why she’s here), and her son, currently in a detention center in Texas!

Yes, mysteriously, here it is. The Story we’ve all been sleepless over, told again in a federal courtroom in Boston, Massachusetts: violence and domestic abuse and the threat of drug trafficking to be foisted upon the child in a “country of origin,” a difficult journey, detention, and side-by-side cages on a concrete floor and a wailing child and a mother unable to soothe her son.  And a government official, in this case a young woman lawyer wearing a white jacket, spouting nonsense. White Jacket Sister “justified” this separation because—are you ready? Our government has separated thousands of children from their parents and it would be, what? Unfair? Unseemly? Just wrong somehow if this child should leapfrog (her word) over all those others. As if the mother and child had cut the line at the deli counter. (She offered other justifications, too. This leap-frog nonsense was the most egregious.)

And it elicited a spirited response from the lead lawyer who sputtered something to the effect of how the United States government has caused this horrific situation and why should this child be held hostage because they’d f**cked up?!

And again, the judge, this time an aging white man, promised he’d carefully consider all he’d just heard and read. I pray he does so quickly.

I’d promised hope. Here are three hopeful take-aways:

  1.  Many amazing, brilliant people, many of them immigrants, many of them lawyers, are working feverishly to counter Trump’s racial discriminatory animus. And where there’s (amazing, brilliant) energy there’s hope, right? (Organizations like Centro Presente need our support BTW. Spiritual and financial.)
  2. There are fifty federal courthouses; many of the immigration cases cited yesterday happened in other states.The future of justice in this country vis a vis the Supreme Court may give you nightmares right now but it’s not the only game in town. I chose to believe that, case by case, something will shift. (But start praying anyway. Just in case.)
  3. Both courtrooms were SRO with TPS folks, aging lefties, community activists—and many, young Women of Color in black suits. Law students. Who will bend that arc even more. God bless them.

Join the Conversation


  1. Dear Patricia,

    Well, hi, there, Patricia, and greetings and salutations to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, my awesomely precious and dearly special FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker woman who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much, sister!!!!!!!! Sistah, WOW, Patricia, I so, so very much love, enjoy, and appreciate your brilliant, detailed, thorough write-up here on the wonderful goings on and happenings in the Courthouse in your beautiful community with your very strong, heartfelt, diligently conscientious work and effort her so choc full of such vivid, rich, and relevant details, my and our absolutely AMAZING sisterfriend, Patricia!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 AWWWWWWW, oh how you and I and very, very many other folks so, so very much love the very special, dearest, and darling immigrants with our deep concern for immigrant issues. Very many of us as such earnest progressive folks so love and care about these dear, so very dearest people!!!!!! I want to help in any way that I'm able also!!!!!!! The so, so very darling people are being so maltreated and persecuted by that vile 45 and his administration with such evil racism, oppression, and discrimination!!!!!!!! I know that I as a black woman face, endure, and experience racism,, oppression, and discrimination but I have some privileges also which the dearest folks don't have at least some of the awesome folks. I am a citizen of the U.S. being born and raised in the U.S. I realize as a black woman that very often there is an unfair, dichotoous black/white binary in which the lives and experiences of black persons are more focused on and discussed than other marvelous peoples of color. I see here very readily that the darling people here treated so outlandishly by that cruel and bigoted 45 and his administration have an even harder plight in some ways than I do as a black woman who faces, endures, and experiences racism, oppression, and discrimination as well. WOW, oh, how I so, so very much love, like, enjoy, and appreciate here how you've revisited here your very lovingly caring, sensitive, and heartfelt blog post article from awhile back called, Showing Up, as you've very graciously and generously featured and included it in the very empowering link in your equally empowering blog post article here. WOW, how the Showing Up blog post article perfectly adds to and complements this great current blog post article here to the very heights of perfection, sistah!!!!!! Sistahfriend, AWWWWWW, oh, how I so, so very much love, like, enjoy, and appreciate how you've here once again as usual as always as every very graciously and generously feature and include all of these very marvelous, powerful, and informative links here!!!!!! The title of this beautifully brilliant blog post article is just perfect, absolutely perfect and very fitting and applicable to the great themes and topics of this fine and excellent blog post article here. The picture which you've very wisely and aptly in such a gracious and generous manner featured and included with this blog post article is accompanying your engaging and endearing article to the very heights of perfection as well, my friend!!!!!! I very happily remember how you've fantastically shared before about how your awesome daughter, Hope, says "feels" with such wisdom, sister!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sistah, YOU, TOO, very much indeed offer some very encouraging, emboldening, and inspirational hope, Patricia, and your masterful composition here does very much indeed powerfully and perfectly embodies the very meaning of darling Hope's word, "feels." This very salient and succinct blog post article is so remarkably composed that I'm actually captured with riveting attention and it feels like I had been there in person from your very enlivening writing here, my dear, dearest, precious Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Oh, how I so loved your very vibrant description of how the woman of color judge allowed the overflow of people who couldn't fit into the courtroom to sit in the unoccupied jury seating as you so lovingly described the black and brown folks who filled those seats like precious people from Honduras, Haiti, and El Salvador. YOU ARE so,so very right on here-I can just somehow imagine and envision that the "optics" as you very sagaciously share and declare here couldn't have been better and even more perfect. Your magnificent and excellent use of the word "optics'' brings to my mind two or your earlier splendid blog post articles, Let's Talk About Optics, and Let's Talk About Optics 2. What superb recollections here for me, my friend!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sistahfrend, what a miracle that you found out accidentally about the second trial which you hadn't known about!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!! How awesome it was that you found out just by chance!!!!!! WOW!!!!!! 🙂 <3 AWWWWWW, oh, how I so love these three hopeful take-aways which you've very astutely come up with, my friend!!!!!! WOW!!!!! WOW, do I so love how you write about and very finely describe with such creativity all of the various folks in the courtroom, sistahfreidn!!!!! Sistah, the very conscientious lawyers for the great immigrants like the Women of Color in black suits, and, in fact, all of us as such progressive folks working together in the cooperative unity of the spirit and solidarity will for certain bend that arc even more so, darling Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 May God bless them, and, in fact, each and every one of us, my dear, dearest, precious, darling Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, oh, AWWWWW, how I feel even more inspired, uplifted, and emboldened by this very moving and touching, outstanding blog post article to do whatever I can to continue being wanting, willing, and able to suit up and show in persisting, interrupting, and resisting, my and our absolutely and wonderfully, wondrous and so, so very right on, soul sisterfriend white woman who you're FOR ALWAYS so, so very much, Patricia!!!!!! WOW!!!! YAY!!!!! YAY for YOU, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!! YAY for our very sistahhood and friendship, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!! I thank=YOU and Spirit CONTINUALLY FOR YOU, PATRICIA, AND FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY VERY LIFE!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I just so, so very much love and cherish YOU, Patricia, FOR ALWAYS!!!!!! Spirit so, so very much loves and cherishes YOU FOR ALWAYS, PATRICIA, A WHOLE LOT AND A WHOLE BUNCH AND SO DO I, TOO, A WHOLE LOT AND A WHOLE BUNCH, sister and friend of mine!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Please have such a marvelous and mighty fine Monday evening, wondrously wonderful rest of your week and weekend ahead, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!! 🙂 <3 AWWWWWW, oh, how I just think so, so very highly of you my precious Patricia and that you're just absolutely the very greatest and the very best!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely FOR ALWAYS, my awesomely special and dearly precious FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you're FOR ALWAYS so, so very much, Patricia, sisterfriend of mine, with My and Spirit's VERY PEACE AND LOVE FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sister of mine, AND WITH SUCH BLESSINGS AND SUCH VERY EVEN MORE BLESSINGS FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, 🙂 <3

    YOURS FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian black woman AND FOR ALWAYS IN THE VERY GREAT SPIRIT OF UNITY AND SOLIDARITY, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa 🙂 <3

  2. Hello Patricia,
    I haven’t visited your blog for a very long time and today – remembering Albert Wild when I took butter from the refrigerator door – I started thinking about you and wondering about the health of your mother. I hope all in your family are well.
    Suzanne Landis Sadler
    From Danville, Va
    • niece to Mary Landis
    • spending another month at the farm house in Millerstown, PA (Remember?)

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