Saturday, November 19, 2016

What "good" registration systems look like.

This is my great-grandfather, originally born Elias Seneft in an area that is now part of Poland or Western Ukraine. His father was a Rabbi. At the time, the area was a part of the German Republic, called Galacia. Many of our ancestors died in the Pogroms of World War I, and in fact, the town my great grandmother is from was entirely wiped off the map, but Elias's parents fled to England for safety. There's a quick over view of how WWI affected the Jewish population, especially in that area, you can read more here.
Because the Seneft family came from an area that was part of the German Republic, and because they had German citizenship, at the beginning of World War I, Elias was sent to a camp for enemy aliens, known as Camp Douglas. Even though they were fleeing certain death at the hands of German and Russian hands. Even though they were fleeing invaders who destroyed their homes and killed their families. The Jewish population of the camp was kept in a separate location from the rest of the populace and treated less well then the other enemy aliens. Since they were in the camp, they also could not become citizens, and once the war was over, they were expelled from England and sent back "home" to Germany just in time for Hitler's rise to power, and I won't bother you by reminding you how that ended.
Let's concentrate instead on this "good" version, and you can read specific details on this page here. My Great-Grandfather and the other detainees were treated well in the internment camps. They were well fed, given health care, and ample opportunities for work, education, and socializing. I can't actually find any information about the Jewish section of the population, and if they were treated differently than the rest, other than being housed separately. A lot of this information has been lost to time and the righteous indignation over what happened during World War 2.

From Encyclopedia 1914-1918


The internment of over 32,000 German and Austro-Hungarian civilians in Britain between 1914 and 1919 took place against the background of a rising tide of xenophobia and panic over "imagined" spies in the run-up to the outbreak of war.[24] Although Tammy Proctor is right to say that internment was a policy enacted by the state,[25] in the British case in particular public opinion appears to have played an important role in pressuring the government to act. The main waves of internment, in October 1914 and May 1915, coincided with outbreaks of anti-foreigner violence in many British towns and cities, during which German-owned property was destroyed or looted. In some cases Germans and Austrians were arrested for their own personal safety, although the official line was that the measures had been undertaken to safeguard the nation against internal spies and to appease the "strong feeling against Germans roused by the atrocities...in Belgium."[26]

Does that remind you of anything? Here's the chilling thing. I mean, other than Trump's supporters specifically mentioning Japanese Internment camps as constitutional reasons why his Muslim registration plan has constitutional backing. NSEERS, the program that the proposed policy would likely be based on is, according to a number of law professionals, constitutional without that precedent. It doesn't target people by religion, it targeted them by country of origin. Like the camps my great grandfather was sent to, it predominantly targeted young men, and the requirements separated them from their families and in many cases, sent them back to the countries they left for safety reasons.

From Immigration Impact

NSEERS consisted of three parts: 1) port-of-entry registration, fingerprinting and photographing of males from certain countries; 2) “call-in” registration requiring certain males to register at immigration offices; and 3) exit registration at the time of departure from the country. There were severe penalties for failing to comply, and then-Attorney General Ashcroft made the arrest and deportation of violators and visa overstays a priority.
More than 80,000 men underwent registration, and thousands were subject to interrogations and detention. Many of those who came forward and attempted to comply with NSEERS ended up deported or unable to secure an immigration benefit, and those who failed to comply—even if they were unaware of the requirements—also faced severe consequences. However, many people continue to feel the negative impact of NSEERS, and many families remain separated.

I am not Jewish. My Grandfather never explained why he turned his back on his faith, but I believe his experiences fleeing the Nazis as a child, living as a refugee in France and the United States, and fighting in World War 2 may have shaken his faith in God. It may also have made him feel unsafe identifying as a Jew. He married a Presbyterian, and they raised their children as Atheists. But I do know that if he were alive he would be appalled at the anti Muslim rhetoric that has taken root in our country, and he would be among the first to stand up and fight against a registry program.
I plan to create a letter version of this post and mail it to the Jewish organizations that are currently supporting Trump and his white supremacist cabinet picks, specifically Bannon, and Sessions. That there are so many Jewish groups who are in support of this man, and his plan is completely confusing to me. I hope that if you are reading this, and you are Jewish, you will consider reaching out to them and urging them to change their positions as well.
The Republican Jewish Coalition