Editor’s note: This poem is part of our #SpreadTheWord poem of the week series, featuring work by Chicago artists based on Injustice Watch reporting. The poem was inspired by a 2020 article, ‘Punishment and Profits’: Q&A with Adam Goodman, author of The Deportation Machine. For more poetry in this series, click here.
They will come to the door in broad daylight. Because they can.
When the sun is high and shining, and Chicago summer feels like it will never end
Investigations that expose, influence and inform. Emailed directly to you.
They will wait in the street.
They will knock.
Even if your conviction is yellowing with age and you have already repented for the sins America has stitched into your skin.
They will ask who is home.
Even if you have proof. A stamp. A slip of paper that says you have permission to reside on this soil permanently.
They will lie.
Pretend to be police officers. Say they just need some help with an ongoing investigation. They will say they have a warrant.
Even if all you can be guilty of is existing without proper government “permissions.”
They will lie.
The warrant isn’t signed by a judge. They break down the door anyway.
They will say that you will see your child again.
They will take you to a detention center. They don’t like to call them “prisons.”
They don’t want us to make the connection. They build different pipelines that lead to the same destination. They are afraid we will figure it out.
They will start a war in a country that your kids will never learn about in school. They will lie about why you came here and never answer for the chaos they caused to push you out. When the tired, the poor, the huddled masses wash up on American shores they will lie. They will call you thieves. Threats to their livelihood. Terrorists to the American dream.
You have the right to remain silent. They will use anything you say against you. Dredge your paper trails for poltergeists: misdemeanors, missing signatures and misfiled forms. They will lie. They will find ghosts and call their actions a necessary exorcism.
You do not have the right to an attorney. They will not provide one for you. They will keep us underrepresented, as always.
They will come for us in broad daylight. They will knock on our doors and they will ask who is home, they will say whatever they need to. They will lie.
We have the right to remain silent. To say nothing when they ask who is home. To leave the door unopened. To question. To say we will not sign our lives away.
We have the right to remain angry. To be loud. To march in the streets. To dream. We have the right to be tired. To be poor. To huddle, en masse, and demand to breathe free.
Chris is a queer, multiracial Filipina poet, teaching artist and community organizer currently based in Chicago. She is the founder and Creative Director of Luya, a poetry organization that centers the voices of people of color. She believes deeply in using poetry to build community and to educate ourselves about history. Chris has performed at venues across the United States, from theatres to universities to immigration rallies. Her performances have been featured at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Stony Island Arts Bank, Young Chicago Authors, on NPR’s Worldview and more.