It was heartening to read about a community coming together to comfort those continuing to deal with the fear and uncertainty that has lingered nearly a week since Homeland Security Investigations agents raided two popular restaurants in Stillwater.
The fact that federal officials would remain silent and allow rumors and speculation to feed the fear and uncertainty that has gripped Stillwater's Hispanic community is reprehensible. The brief statement issued after the fact by an assistant federal prosecutor who offered no details about a purported criminal investigation or the arrests exacerbated the unease that exists about immigration and related issues.
After the raids temporarily shuttered the restaurants, the Stillwater mayor was quick to quell fears that the warrants were being carried out as part of an "immigration enforcement action." But some learned later that some of those swept up from the eateries had been deported before the arrests, and the identities of those detained were kept under wraps for reasons that remain unexplained.
This conduct from federal officials is the type that cannot — and should not — be condoned. While it may pale to those carried out a few weeks ago in Mississippi, where more than 600 workers were arrested at meat processing plants — about 40 have been charged for being here illegally, but employers have escaped legal liability so far — it cannot be minimized.
It is conduct such as this that instills fear among us and divides communities — we cannot allow that to happen. If we prioritize humanity rather than ideological extremes, then reasonable policies can be put in place to address immigration concerns.
We should demand no less from a government founded upon principles of freedom, liberty and equality. Until then it is comforting to know there are those within the community who are ready to help deal with fears and concerns arising from situations like those in Stillwater and elsewhere.
That help can be found by calling Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma at (918) 681-6115 or Catholic Charities of Tulsa, (918) 508-7180.