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Posts Tagged ‘Immigration’

It was almost 2 am, my mind was a jumble of raw nerve endings. I tried to concentrate on my breath, to meditate my way back to sleep, but I ended up instead tracing the alphabet with my feet. Ankle exercises can be comforting. Then it suddenly got very dark. tomb-like-dark. And it was quiet, no house humming quiet. I wondered if it was just that Bob’s phone stopped lighting up. He had returned from a trip to FL, visiting his brother. But the alarm clock was black; our power was out.

Today it’s supposed to creep up toward 100 degrees, one of the hottest days of the year.

So what did I do? I woke Bob of course, after all maybe it was just a fuse that needed to switch. But it was the whole street, all the street lamps were out, thousands of people without power.

Are you a midnight wanderer? Do you raid the refrigerator at night, or watch TV when you can’t sleep? I’m a Reader with a capital R. So after 2 hours of mingling our feet and talking by flashlight, commiserating about our old whole house generator in the mountains, when the power finally came back on I picked up a National Geographic magazine about Migration.

It was like a crash course in “How Not to be a White Supremacist!” Because 1) tracing DNA has become so affordable, and 2) some tiny, miniscule bone in our inner ear that is the most dense bone in our body has been storing all of our primitive ancestors’ secrets since the Ice Age, therefore 3) anthropologists have been able to trace the Three Great Human Migrations!

“Who Were the First Europeans?” by Andrew Curry is in this month’s issue A WORLD ON THE MOVE. “Europeans living today, in whatever country, are a varying mix of ancient bloodlines hailing from Africa, the Middle East, and the Russian Steppe.” In other words neo-Nazis, get over yourselves and your replacement theory. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/07/first-europeans-immigrants-genetic-testing-feature/

We are all descendants of farmers who tolerated nomads (hunter/gatherers) and then rode horses across continents as plague almost decimated our species. That’s a pretty small nutshell, but some people were dark with green eyes, and some were light with brown eyes and somehow we managed to survive, together. Last night:

I was worrying about the Love Bug who starts 2nd Grade today. We spent the afternoon together and she had a fever, an ear infection, would her parents send her to school?

I was worrying about Great Grandma Ada, because she worries about me all the time so I thought I’d return the favor.

I was worrying about children separated from their parents because I was separated from my Mother the Flapper when I was 10 months old.

This morning I was surprised by how low the Trump administration could go, though I really shouldn’t have been. He is changing the rules and regulations for LEGAL immigrants to obtain a green card, making it more difficult to obtain visas or become citizens. Why you may ask? If a person has relied on any form of public assistance for more than ONE year, they will be invited to leave! The article was hiding inside the BBC News website. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49323610

This bears repeating – LEGAL Immigrants who do not meet the GOP’s rules of “self-sufficiency” will be deported. So legal immigrants working part-time at Walmart will have to go if they rely on food aid or public housing….

I didn’t go to this year’s East Nashville Tomato Festival because Bob wasn’t here, but also because I’m becoming afraid of crowds. What keeps you up in the middle of the night?

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When I was a student at Sacred Heart School, I would sit with my hands folded on my desk per the nun’s orders, and stare out the window at the Cadillac dealership across the street. In between daydreams and catechism, I’d count the bricks on the wall of that monstrous building. The bricks were that siena color, formidable and cold. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring, to rush outside and stand there on the sidewalk across from that brick wall, waiting for my school bus. For freedom.

Call it a fence, a barrier or a wall, call it whatever you like, our government has ground to a partial halt because of it.

When our children were young, my good friend’s husband returned from Germany with a piece of the Berlin Wall. His name was Gunther and he’d been born in Germany. To hear him tell it, there was a party in the street and pieces, chunks of crumbling cement were strewn all over the place. It represented so much more than an end to the Cold War.

The Wall was a metaphor for Rockwell’s four freedoms – “Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.”

Taken from one of FDR’s speeches to gain public approval for our entry into WWII, Rockwell’s paintings were purely propaganda; they raised $133 Million dollars in war bonds. As I try to understand the Trumpeteers among us, the Freedom from Fear image resonates with today’s imagined crisis at our Southern border with Mexico. A white father stands in the foreground as his wife tucks their children into bed.

Fear is a totalitarian government’s bread and butter.

When Mr T tells his followers that rapists and gang members are setting up caravans to invade our country, they believe him. Today’s illustrator might paint the image of a white father in that same child’s bedroom, within a walled-off, gated community holding a rifle. After all, in the art of Mr T’s deal, it pays to keep his customers afraid.

Barriers, man-made and natural, can keep people in or out, depending on your perspective. Nomads and cowboys and cowgirls hate fences, farmers love ’em. I was surprised in Key West to see a small chicken coop behind a house in the historic district, after all, hundreds of colorful roosters and hens roam free in the Conch Republic.  Then Bob pointed out that not only was the chicken coop door wide open, so was the wall surrounding the yard.

I wondered aloud what keeps those chickens hanging around; and I wonder why all the other chickens haven’t invaded their coop?

We returned to a freezing Nashville this week where Winter Break is over and children have been heading back to school. Our grandchildren loved returning to school, where they needn’t sit still with hands clasped counting bricks. I can only hope that all those 8th Grade trips around this already great country to our nation’s Capital are NOT cancelled.

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It’s the happiest season of all, right? But what to do if you’re not Christian, or even a lapsed-Catholic or Christian-light, or maybe Jewish or Muslim? Well, child psychologists can always tell us what to do, and lately they’ve been taking all the fun out of December.

First it was, teach your kids they don’t have to hug Aunt Fannie – that relative you see maybe once or twice a year who insists on a hug and a kiss. And now, we are being told to spill the goods on Santa – don’t lie to your kids about Santa!

“Do you believe in Santa Claus Mommy?” the Love Bug asked my daughter in the car the other day. Why do they always come up with such earth-shattering questions in the car? Of course I wanted to know what she said, but the Bride only said she stalled, making me feel like somehow I’d failed. Because even though Bob and I were raising our children in the Jewish faith, I never gave up on Santa Claus

I mean I didn’t leave him milk and cookies. We didn’t have any naughty elves sneaking around our bookshelves. There were no blinking trees in our living room either. And they never knew when Santa would arrive, silently gliding down our chimney – it might happen during Hannukah, or maybe on Christmas morning. But I felt it viscerally, that memory of a big, kind guy in a red suit visiting children all over the world to fulfill their wishes. And I wanted to keep that magic alive in my family.

But according to this BBC article, if a child is old enough to ask about Santa, they are old enough for the truth. No, Virginia, there is nobody.

“You shouldn’t lie about Santa because you are encouraging your children, usually with made-up proof, to believe a morally ambiguous lie. I’m not alone in being devastated learning of my parents’ elaborate deceit about Santa, leaving me to wonder what other lies they had told.

Santa supposedly encourages imagination but, as noted in this article, and others, you’re really asking children to suspend criticality and believe a fiction. As this piece suggests, fantasy and imagination work because we choose to believe what we know isn’t true. Far from promoting wonder, the Santa story encourages children to be consumers of others’ ideas.” http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20181211-why-you-shouldnt-lie-to-your-children-about-santa

Today is the sixth anniversary of the shooting at Newtown Elementary School. Those children, who were the same age as my grand daughter, will never have the chance to ask about Santa Claus. They will never go caroling again with their parents. When our government failed to pass any meaningful gun control legislation after that, long before Sandy Hook, I lost my faith again. Only this time, it was with our country.

Last night we read about a 7 year old Guatemalan girl who died of dehydration and exhaustion at the border of New Mexico. She was in OUR custody with her father for more than 8 hours before seizures began. This actually happened last week, according to the Washington Post:

“The ACLU blamed “lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP (Customs and Border Patrol)” for the girl’s death. “The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths,” Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement.”  

So maybe we should tell our kids the truth, always. Because buying into a fairy tale, quasi-religious belief that leaves Mrs Claus at home in the North Pole while her husband gets all the credit for one night’s work does seem antiquated. Maybe we must be brutally honest with ourselves first. And not expect falsehhoods to turn into facts simply because a great, orange-headed beast keeps repeating them…

It’s almost like selling someone a bill of goods about fossil fuels, and promising to fulfill all your wishes, just because you have your name on a few buildings.

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It doesn’t matter who designs a border: Russia divided Berlin; the British carved up the Middle East and India; and we Americans decided that Texas would not become part of Mexico. Imperial powers have drawn lines based on ethnicity and/or religion for centuries, and bloodshed is the usual outcome. This past weekend, as we caught up with post-Thanksgiving errands and pre-Holiday shopping, migrants were tear gassed on our California border.

My immediate thought was “Kent State.”

And inbetween cyber-shopping with a bad head cold, I read that Russia thought this would be the perfect time to seize three Ukrainian ships! It seems that the ships were headed down the Kerch Strait, minding their own business, near the Russian-annexed waters of Crimea…ie Moscow crossed that border awhile ago. Vlad figures Nikki Haley has one foot out the door at the United Nations, and Mr T has his hands full with his paranoia and his “caravan,” so why not now?

I will often turn to poetry when the world is too much with me, and right now “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke fills the bill:

“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   
I learn by going where I have to go.”

And I look at the travel section of the BBC and dream about a great escape. My whole family would like to visit Iceland and I’m not sure why; certainly the stark, brilliant scenery is one thing, but like traveling itself, it’s the people who can delight and inspire you.

There is a certain philosophy in Iceland that is similar to Great Grandma Ada’s mantra, “It will all press out.” Of course you must say this in Yiddish, and since her father was a tailor from Minsk, it makes sense. Icelanders call this , “Betta Reddast” which means basically that everything will work out alright in the end! For a very cold nation, they are an optimistic bunch. http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180603-the-unexpected-philosophy-icelanders-live-by

And although Iceland is not likely to start a war over a borderline, they do have a natural, geographical phenomenon that is pushing the country apart ever so slowly. Climate change is threatening to submerse major cities around the world, but the good news is that Iceland is growing… if you don’t mind a little earthquake here and there.

The country sits on the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and those plates are slowly moving apart, widening Iceland by about 3cm per year and causing an average of 500 small earthquakes every week.

Our beautiful new niece and her family crossed the North Carolina border to visit us Thanksgiving weekend, and I’m hoping my virus didn’t return the favor when they traveled back over the mountains. Can you see the Bat Building in the reflection?

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When I was the Rocker’s mini-league soccer coach, my brother Mike told me that soccer will never take over American Football in popularity. Of course wrecking cranes were tearing down the Berlin Wall at the time, and nobody would have predicted that either. However, the 2018 World Cup fever was electrifying and made me wonder just how viewership compared with the Super Bowl.

My whole family was cheering for France to win, and when they did “Mon Dieu!”

Then I happened to see a clip of the Daily Show where Trevor Noah, who is South African, congratulated “Africa” on the World Cup. I thought it was pretty funny, which is the point, but Oh La La, that hit a nerve in France. The French ambassador to Washington, Gérard Araud, wrote to the network saying Mr Noah had “misunderstood” the cultural model of his country. Well, either that or Mr Araud has no sense of humor.

Immigrant or first generation, like Great Grandma Ada who was born in Brooklyn to parents fresh off a boat from Russia, when is it OK to identify oneself as an American, or a French man or woman for that matter? In light of Mr T’s latest ploy, reminiscent of McCarthy era tactics, to denaturalize American citizens, to eliminate birthright citizenship and ship these children off to their parents’ countries by executive order, it would seem to be a timely question.

Declaring a person stateless isn’t really new; it was initially how the Nazi government was formed by stripping “certain” people of their rights.

In 1922, Albert Einstein said in a speech in Paris: “If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/23/world/europe/mesut-ozil-germany-soccer.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=5&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F07%2F23%2Fworld%2Feurope%2Fmesut-ozil-germany-soccer.html&eventName=Watching-article-click

This morning I read about a German soccer player who quit his national team because of racism. Mesut Ozil had the bad judgement to pose for a picture with the Turkish leader, President Erdogan, and then performed poorly at the World Cup. He wrote on Twitter, “I’m a German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.” Ozil was born in Germany.

Let’s not forget that Mr T got his start in the game of politics by questioning President Obama’s citizenship, and by fomenting fear of immigrants. He tweets absurdities about NFL players who choose to take a knee on their field of dreams.

My midsummer night’s dream is to register as many new voters as I can, naturalized or otherwise born in the USA, in order to reverse our country’s slide into the MAGA dustbin of history. Great Grandma Ada made this necklace with carved African totem beads, Russian amber, and turquoise from the American Southwest – our diversity can only enhance our politics, and our sports teams!

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We’re invited to a baby shower! My “Total eclipse of the sun” friend’s daughter, who happened to train at Vandy with the Bride, is having a baby. The new mama-to-be is a Pediatric Orthopedist who has gone on hunting trips with her father. I wonder if anyone is going to ask her how long her “confinement” will be?

That’s what Great Aunt Bertha wanted to know when I was waiting for the Bride to come into this world. And even today, in some cultures, cocooning the new mom/baby couple at home for the first month is de rigeur. A rite of passage when grandparents and aunties lived in the same village, or around the block.

While finally watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Netflix, I’ve found myself drawn to certain news stories about the myriad ways women have been constrained throughout herstory: binding the feet of high caste Chinese girls to resemble hooves; ever increasing chokers to lengthen the necks of African women; and the latest tortuous injustice in Nepal – banishing menstruating women to a small hut every month because of a superstition that they will bring bad luck to their families.

Young women have died from the cold, from a snakebite, from smoke inhalation. Last year Nepal passed a law criminalizing this practice, yet it is rarely enforced. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/world/asia/nepal-women-menstruation-period.html

  • In many world religions, women are seen as impure during their periods
  • They are restricted from entering places of worship and following religious rites
  • The chhaupadi tradition followed by Hindus in western Nepal is the most extreme version where women are banished outside during their monthly cycle
  • In India, women are not allowed to enter some Hindu temples and Muslim mosques while menstruating but there have been court cases to overturn this
  • In southern India, a girl reaching puberty is celebrated with a party and presents
  • In the Dogon tribe in Mali, women of the village also live in a hut during their periods

So this morning, as the world celebrates the rescue of all 12 pre-pubescent Thai boys and their soccer coach from a cave, I can’t help noticing that buried at the bottom of the NYT’s front page is a small piece about immigration. Today is the deadline imposed by a San Diego federal judge for the Trump administration to reunite all migrant families with their children who are less than 5 years of age.

The reunions will be carried out today for about HALF of the children under extreme secrecy with the Department of Homeland Security. As we look away, as we turn to Thailand, some South American families will be reunited and immediately deported. But what about the other children under 5, where are their parents? Where are they? What about the children over 6? The Love Bug will turn 6 this summer.

I never thought my country would break up families and put children in cages on our Southern border. And today, as this administration defies a court order of reunification because (insert some reason here for losing about 50 children and babies) I wonder what our legislators will do. Because doing nothing is no longer an option.

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There was a time in my life, well probably more than one time if we count near-miss car accidents, when I thought I might die. It was a year between the births of my two children; the last miscarriage was brutal and I ended up back in the hospital with sepsis. My roomie was an older Polish woman who spoke very little English, still I understood her. She had me fetch her rosary beads out of her purse and asked me to pray with her.

The words flowed easily from my mouth, hailing Mary I thought about how comforting it was for her and me! And just the other day with Great Grandma Ada, I happened upon another set of wooden rosary beads. She told me a woman had given them to her in Africa.

But it was the picture this morning on my social feed of rosary beads that are being confiscated at the border of our country that sent chills down my spine. How can this be happening here? Will rosary beads pile up in an exhibition, like so many gold teeth or shoes in Auschwitz, in some future museum to our Central American immigrants?

When border patrol agents separate young children from their families, they are not just inflicting harm, they are telling the world that we allowed this…here. And I cannot.

Even though Mr T’s job approval rating has gone up to 45 percent with HIS “zero tolerance” policy, and who ARE these people…I cannot abide by it.

Even when Pro Publica released an audio tape of children as young as 4 – our Pumpkin is almost 4 – crying for their parents while a guard says,

“We have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.”

I will not accept this. We need to call Flake, Collins and every single GOP legislator with a phone and a conscience. We need to rally the White House. We need to give to RAICES Texas to help fund legal services for immigrant families! https://actionnetwork.org/groups/raices-refugee-and-immigrant-center-for-education-and-legal-services

We need to be the conductors of compassion and stop this insane policy. Because praying can only get you so far. We know that one young girl has been raped by a guard – https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2018/06/17/texas-deputy-accused-sexually-assaulting-4-year-old-threatened-mom-deportation-sheriff-says

When will a child die of an asthma attack in the heat, in a cage? Because we know this will happen.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/whats-really-happening-asylum-seeking-families-separated/

What will you do?

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