Home Opinion The EDM Professionals' Civil War?

The EDM Professionals' Civil War?


Let's Not Set EDM Professionals Against Each Other

There is precedence for this. It's happened before. Take these example missions:

Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE)ERO enforces the nation’s immigration laws in a fair and effective manner. It identifies and apprehends removable aliens, detains these individuals when necessary and removes illegal aliens from the United States.

American Red Cross: ... makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

See the conflict?

In an effort to be absolutely impartial in the provision of disaster services, the Red Cross must not discriminate against victims on the basis of citizenship. In an effort to accomplish its mission, ICE must seek out and remove non-citizens who are not entitled to be in the United States.

So, for example, when the flood hits, or the hurricane hits, which mission takes precedence? Lifesaving or residency rights?

Well, the Red Cross and ICE negotiated the issue, and in a remarkably compassionate concession, ICE acknowledged that it was not in the best interests of the nation to enforce immigration laws during disasters. So you will never find an ICE team at the door of a Red Cross shelter checking the citizenship of disaster victims who are checking in. That just doesn't happen. And that has saved lives ... many, many lives.

Deportations? Not in My City

That demonstrates the essence of the latest conflict between the missions of political perspectives & EDM professionals on the local level, and political perspectives and EDM professionals on the federal level. Our president-elect has indicated that he plans to deport as many as three million undocumented individuals immediately.

That's consistent--it's not different than the outgoing president's administration, which deported an estimated 2.4 million individuals.

But where this becomes an issue is when one considers the selection of the individuals. The president-elect says they will all be 'people with criminal records, gang members, and drug dealers.' That would be a worthy thing to do, if that number of such people really exist. Federal officials, following the lead of the Commander-in-Chief, will proceed as if that is the case, and do their best.

City officials--and probably in some cases, state officials--do not have confidence that the enforcement of this mandate can be done with accuracy and compassion. Example stories of parents being separated from children, reversal of the so-called DREAM Act which has helped so many worthy young people, etc., have tarnished the initiative before it began.

Some cities responded by declaring themselves 'Sanctuary Cities.' Cities such as Chicago, New York, Oakland, California, Minneapolis; San Francisco, and Seattle have declared that they will not assist with deportations.

Pick Your Poison

Again: see the conflict?

One elected branch of our government is facing off against another elected branch of our government, and the elected officials will not be the ones who face off--no, the enforcement officials that face off will be our own honorable EDM public servants--each agency with its own mandate and each agency either directed to or believing that its mandate has the moral and ethical high ground.

The point of all this is that any public servant, from any agency, usually has confidence in carrying out orders and directives in absolute comfort because they trust and have faith that their leadership is correct. But what happens when two of these public servants meet face-to-face with conflicting orders?

At that point, all the comfortable procedures are going to fall away, and YOU as an EDM professional could be challenged to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong.

Are you ready?

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.