Photo: US Senator Jeff Merkley tries and fails to enter a federal detention center holding children without their parents in a closed Wal-Mart in Texas.

“I was just doing my job” is pretty weak in light of the atrocities being committed against those seeking refuge in our country today.

Rise Collaborative was founded on the principles that Buffalo and Western New York are stronger because of the immigrant and refugee population that, until recently, had been flooding into its vacant homes and neighborhoods and spurring our regional economy back to life. In cooperation with the International Institute of Buffalo and Jericho Road Community Health Center, we’ve shared multiple researched reports that show the positive economic effect of our newest neighbors, not to mention the improvements to our food, character and and culture. Here are some examples of those facts:
Impact on Buffalo and Syracuse metros
Impact on 25 Great Lakes metros including Buffalo
Urban Land Institute homeownership study – Buffalo is one of the metros they study

These are trying and important times, and while our focus remains talking about the region’s art, culture, small businesses, non profits and more through our blog, podcast, video series and magazine, we have to speak out against the atrocities being committed on our own southern border, and those who break the rules of the english language by calling humans “illegals” in order to vilify and dehumanize those with more melanin in their skin, born on the wrong side of an imaginary line – a slippery slope.

So here, we will briefly applaud those whose morality outweighed their career aspirations, as well as the people and governments who are still doing what’s right:

1 – Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts, Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Via VICE

In February, Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts, a legal secretary at the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, found out that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was issuing subpoenas to his agency. ICE wanted information that ranged from unemployment insurance information to workers’ compensation claims to whether there had been wage disputes at workplaces, material ICE could potentially use to develop operational intelligence that would lead to raids and deportations. Dyrdahl-Roberts saw his participation in this process as a moral choice, and publicly quit his job—he didn’t want to make it easier for the Trump administration to deport people.

2 – James Schwab, ICE Spokesman in Calfiornia via MSNBC

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman quit and accused top Trump administration officials of releasing “misleading facts” over recent raids in California.

The spokesman, James Schwab, 38, said he resigned from the San Francisco branch of the agency last week. He informed news outlets late Monday and cited claims by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ICE Acting Director Thomas D. Homan that 800 undocumented immigrants had evaded an operation last month because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf had issued a public warning of upcoming raids.

“I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” Schwab told The San Francisco Chronicle, which first reported his resignation. “I asked them to change the information. I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn’t agree with that. Then I took some time and I quit.”

3 – John Feeley, US Ambassador to Panama via The New Yorker

John Feeley, the Ambassador to Panama and a former Marine helicopter pilot, is not averse to strong language, but he was nevertheless startled by his first encounter with President Donald Trump. Summoned to deliver a briefing in June, 2017, he was outside the Oval Office when he overheard Trump concluding a heated conversation, “Fuck him! Tell him to sue the government.” Feeley was escorted in, and saw that Mike Pence, John Kelly, and several other officials were in the room. As he took a seat, Trump asked, “So tell me—what do we get from Panama? What’s in it for us?” Feeley presented a litany of benefits: help with counter-narcotics work and migration control, commercial efforts linked to the Panama Canal, a close relationship with the current President, Juan Carlos Varela. When he finished, Trump chuckled and said, “Who knew?” He then turned the conversation to the Trump International Hotel and Tower, in Panama City. “How about the hotel?” he said. “We still have the tallest building on the skyline down there?”

Last December, half a year after the meeting in the Oval Office, Feeley submitted a letter of resignation. Many diplomats have been dismayed by the Trump Administration; since the Inauguration, sixty per cent of the State Department’s highest-ranking diplomats have left. But Feeley broke with his peers by publicly declaring his reasons. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, titled “Why I Could No Longer Serve This President,” he said that Trump had “warped and betrayed” what he regarded as “the traditional core values of the United States.” For months, Feeley had tried to maintain the country’s image, as Trump’s policies and pronouncements offended allies: the ban on travellers from Muslim-majority countries; the call for a wall on the Mexican border; the political bait and switch concerning the Dreamers; the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As a result, Feeley wrote, “America is undoubtedly less welcome in the world today.” Increasingly, he feared that the country was embracing an attitude that was profoundly inimical to diplomacy: the strong do what they will and the weak do what they must. “If we do that,” he told me, “my experience and my world view is that we will become weaker and less prosperous.” It was not only Trump’s policies that troubled him. In the Post, he wrote, “My values were not his values.”

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Unfortunately, after an extensive search, we had to turn to those who had been forced to resign after finding only THREE who had quit in defiance. Both are signs of hope… ICE is losing employees daily for various reasons, but they’re not speaking to the press, which is unfortunate.

4 – Washington State DOL Director Jeff DeVere FORCED TO RESIGN BY THE PUBLIC – Via Seattle Times

The Washington State Department of Licensing will no longer release personal information to federal immigration authorities without a court order unless required by law, the agency announced Monday.

The move is among a series of changes the agency is making in response to outrage over its policy of providing photos and driver’s-license applications to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — information that can be used to help arrest and deport people.

The Seattle Times first reported the agency’s practiceThursday, revealing that DOL was handing over personal information to federal authorities 20 to 30 times a month. The policy was surprising to many, given that Washington is among a minority of states to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

The agency also has accepted the resignation of Deputy Director Jeff DeVere. DeVere oversaw compliance with an executive order that Gov. Jay Inslee signed last year, designed to prevent state employees from helping federal officials enforce immigration laws — an attempt to thwart President Donald Trump’s approach to immigration enforcement.

Until questioned by The Seattle Times last week, Inslee’s office didn’t know the extent of DOL’s cooperation with the feds, according to his spokeswoman, Jaime Smith.

The response to the licensing department’s policy of cooperating with ICE was swift and furious. The governor ordered DOL to direct future requests from federal immigration officers to his general counsel. State lawmakers pledged to file a bill to ensure the practice was stopped.