Immigration Nationally, Homeless Locally

Adam Garrett-Clark
2 min readJul 13, 2019


What the observant resident of Oakland, California might perceive is an interesting set of parallel themes across the desperate people seeking asylum in developed nations and desperate people seeking asylum in developed city centers.

In both cases, the people who are desperate are stigmatized for their desperation.

In both cases, they are seeking to be inside climates that can potentially be beneficial for them.

In both cases, their status as immigrant or undocumented, or homeless or poor, is what keeps them systemically at arm’s length from the resources they seek, safety, security, comfortable standard of living. Things we all want and most of us would not limit from anyone else unless they believed we were in a scarcity of resources.

In both cases, the people rooted in comfort believe there is a scarcity of resources to provide comfort.

They fear the desperate are a threat to their own comfort.

In both cases, the people rooted in comfort are hostile toward the desperate.

And in both cases, the people rooted in comfort are disgusted by the desperate.

This feeling of disgust is the most fascinating part. It is the other side of the coin of dehumanization.

In both cases, there is a helpful need to count the desperate to assess where and how much resources need to be directed to developing comfort. There is also a malignant need to count to be able to forcibly remove the desperate from the centers of resources that they seek. And in both cases, the desperate remain in the shadows with pragmatic fear.

In both cases, the comfortable hold the hammer of enforcement and push the hammer as hard as possible on the desperate.

In both cases, the comfortable resist attempts or ideas of how to comfort the desperate. The logic being that providing the desperate with the comfort they seek will only encourage more desperate to come.

What is interesting to think about is a world where the comfortable believed in abundance. If the comfortable believed that there was enough for everyone to be comfortable, would their handle on the hammer of enforcement loosen?

If there was a breakdown of disgust and otherness that happens when they see the desperate would they push the political buttons that unfurl the safety net? In the same way, a comfortable person should unfurl a blanket for a guest sleeping over?

The only reason Radical Hospitality has to be radical is because of the disgust and dehumanization coin spinning in our heads.

This is probably the last observation that an observant Oakland resident may perceive. Its that in both cases there is a supporting legacy of bigotry that has laid the groundwork, framing, insulation, and plumbing of that spinning coin of stigma and dehumanization. It is the foundational problem that if solved (within our own heads) would cascade solutions both locally with homelessness and nationally with immigration.

What would we do if we believed we could do something and we all actually cared about the people involved?