Feb. 22, 2017
IT'S BEEN A DAY since Trump's people announced the latest plans to deport immigrants living in the United States illegally. Some experts say the new policies mean that, potentially, most of the 11 million people could be subject to the crackdown. How many actually will be kicked out isn't clear. But it could be millions.
Why would a dog like me care?
That’s what Cat wanted to know.
“First of all,” he yowled – I’m not exaggerating about that yowl, a horrible sound Cat makes when he’s hungry, feeling his age or doesn’t like what Our Humans are watching on TV.
“First of all, you are a legal dog, just like I’m a legal cat," Cat said. "What’s more, we’re extra safe because Our Humans were, in the immortal words of The Boss, Born in the USA,” Cat continued, singing the last part. "We're family."
“How can I be sure?” I said.
“Well, you have your annual dog license from the city of Newport, R.I. You are up-to-date on your rabies shots. The proof is right there on your collar, those two ‘tags’ that go clink-clink-clang – boy, do I hate that sound – wherever you go.”
I thought to myself that Cat doesn’t wear a collar. What if the immigration police, or more likely, their drones, swoop alongside our house, peering into the window of our guestroom, where Cat sacks out most days?
Which actually wouldn’t be the worst thing, since Cat sometimes scares the bejezus out of me with his attacks from ambush, his hissing and his unnatural interest in my dog food bowl. Maybe I should rat him out to ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which could take him to HQ for a a couple of hours, until they brought him back, having verified his records.
“I do have papers, showing that I was adopted legally.” Cat snarled. How come Cat knows what I’m thinking without me saying anything? Cats are extremely creepy.
PAPERS? I told Cat that the only papers I have are from a vet, who examined me after I was found wandering around Missouri when I was only six-months old and then somehow ended up in Rhode Island.
The vet’s report said I was full of lice and needed some dental work, noting for the record that I was a “sweet dog,” which was the first time – but hardly the last – that those words would be used to describe me.
“And your point is?” Cat said.
“They’re only vet records," I said. "They don’t say for sure that I was born in Missouri, just that I was found there. For all I know, I could have been born in Cuba or Panama or Labrador – that’s in Canada – since I’m part Labrador Retriever."
SUDDENLY speaking in a normal voice, Cat said it’s the same with him, except his medical records are from Massachusetts, and they don’t say where he was born, or even when. No proof of birthplace.
Great. I’m partners with an undocumented cat. And my own records are not exactly, to put it in legal-speak, probative.
Neither of us said anything. It had been dark for hours and getting to be bedtime. I’m no clairvoyant like Cat, but we were both thinking the same thing.
What would it be like to hauled away by the immigration troops – Trump wants to hire 10,000 new ones – who any minute in the middle of the night burst into what used to be our home?
They toss us into the back of some car or van and drive off to who knows where. Our Humans stand on the front porch, watching helplessly as the Federales’ taillights disappear into the February darkness.
“Sleep tight, Cat,” I said.
“You too, Phoebe.”