Sunday, December 11, 2011

      I feel good this morning. My last minutes of sleeping involved a visit from my Granddad in a dream. This is the first time I have seen him since he died in autumn of 2004, so it has been seven years almost exactly. Many things have changed around me since then, including relatives. His death separated my aunts and uncles from us even more than they already were. His estate was a big deal I guess I don’t know I had my own issues going on to really pay much attention to it all. All that I knew was that my rock, my Granddad had rolled off into the disappearing wherever, and now who would be there for me?
      I lived with my Granddad when I was twenty years old in Florida. I worked at a new store within walking distance. I saved some money, I ventured about walking up and down the miles of stores, or riding my bike to distant locations, getting lost sometimes. The bus system took a full circle out to the island. It would go down the causeway, which was always full of things to look at with the tan bodies unloading their boats and ski jets of all shapes and sizes. It then would go out to the island with either the families scurrying out of their cars with sixteen different floating devices and piles of towels and buckets and shade umbrellas, or of course the natives, the islanders, the people that I ended up knowing all too well eventually. The bus would take a turn back up towards the main land at Cortez and circle around back to the Kmart bus-stop close to Granddad’s house a total of an hour. I ended up getting a little apartment out there on the island across from the beach. I had a job as the only waitress in a pricey German restaurant beside my apartment. The owner’s name was Hans. Hans was the chef of many German dishes like Sauerbraten, and our menu was in the German language. The host was his boyfriend of a decade named Bob. He was sort of like my BFF because he was more feminine. We sat around every night after closing drinking a glass of the Varsteiner beer on tap, so rich. His son was the dishwasher, and then there was me, the little 21 year old waitress with a slim figure and bleach blonde hair all twisted with braids and ringlets for work in my tight fitting black and white skirts and shirts across the street from the sunset. We were only open from five to nine. It was a perfect set up. Once, Hans took all of us to the water park in his fancy car. Many people laughed at our group. I guess it was because of their bikini trunks? A group of teens kept calling us the Adams family. I did not care though because I was not insecure in that way. I still remember it though so it did leave an impression.
      While I lived with my Granddad we had many special moments. My Granddad loved my laugh, he constantly said I could do anything both with that laugh and with my intelligence that he praised me for often. He held the highest opinion of me of anyone that I have ever known, as to why I say that my rock was gone. Along with him leaving went my adoration, that lovely feeling that helped me get through life when I knew someone had the best of thoughts for my life… that was him.
       One day I took a bike ride out to the causeway and lay out to tan on my towel all afternoon and I fell asleep. It started to get late so I went back home to Granddad’s house, and we went to eat at Wendy’s at five as usual, and I took a quick nap after. That evening my Granddad and I watched TV and I felt a tickle on my head. My hair was down to my waist at that time and was all twirled up into a bun on top of my head. I thought that the tickle was one of the cats. I swished my arm up to shoo them away, but when I looked there was no cat. I sat up and out of my hair fell a little foot long skinny snake to the floor. Granddad got the cooking prongs from the kitchen and picked it up. He was so happy and I can still remember his excited little boy face as he headed to the bathroom with the snake to flush him. We laughed but I was at the same time so grossed out at the thought that it must have been nestled up in my hair all day from the causeway visit. That was a good moment, a memory with him that I treasure. I spent my twenty first birthday with him. We had cake and ice cream and watched the Pretty Woman movie that just came out.  My Nana was still alive then and sometimes we ganged up as women on my Granddad when he got too grumpy. She said to me it was just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it was a poor one. I guess I did not follow that advice well. That is, if rich meant money.
       I left Florida and went back to my mother’s home. My father had left. I broke out in hives at the realization that I should have stayed in Florida. I slowly went through various unguided mistakes, one after the other till I found myself back in Florida some ten years later. My Nana had died, my Granddad was a bit older, but his eyes still sparkled at me when he seen me and he still loved my laugh. I called him when I had the nerve to leave my abusive husband and needed gas money as I sat and waited for him to arrive along side of the highway. He pulled up in his station wagon and we sat and I cried. He let me cry on the side of his shoulder as he hugged me. I told him about how leaving my abusive husband was hurting my feelings so much, but I did not tell him about the abuse. My Granddad said, “Friends don’t leave friends when times get tough.” If only it were that simple.
       I did end up leaving for good, but not at that time of course. I don’t hold that advice against him because he most certainly was not aware of the existence of the true nature of the abuse that was going on or he would not have said that to me I am sure. When we got the call that he was in the hospital and my dad was flying into town, we all went to the hospital. Granddad was propped up in a chair moaning and gritting his teeth. We had the nurses move him to the bed. He told my abusive husband to take good care of me. He knew he was going to die. I stayed to comfort Granddad. My abusive husband went home to, later I found out, smoke crack, the freak. Granddad went down a road of horrible pain that throughout we made direct strong eye contact with for 4-5 hours straight. I saw the fear in his eyes and I told him over and over that it was okay. They gave him morphine and he went to sleep until he finally died. I felt like he took part of me with him as I was the last person that he was looking at though all of those hours. It was so intense.
      I left my abusive husband within the following month. At the funeral service at my Granddad’s house he told me if you leave me I will kill you. I am not sure why he said that. I left him anyway. Actually the city employees took us away from him. It all worked out for the best.
       I have missed my Granddad’s supportive adoration over the years. It was like an extra protective barrier from society’s bumps that I went through. I have found that same love with Ricardo. He is always my rock. I can have a day of total turmoil and insecurities and I talk to Ricardo and he instantly calms me down with few words. Meeting him was my blessing as I have always said from day one. He has added to my life that extra security that someone in the world loves me unconditionally.
      I had this dream about Granddad this morning. I have not seen him since he died, so it was a bit of a pleasant surprise. I woke up in the early morning very depressed… very, very sad… then I went back to sleep. Maybe my Granddad knew that I needed him. In my dream he held me while I cried and I told him how sad I was and he comforted me with his words. When I woke up I felt better. I think he is still watching me, so now I feel better. It gets really hard to focus when you are sad. I do not have the luxury of time to be sad. My life is falling apart around me, so there is definitely a need for support even if only when I am sleeping.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Rule of Law Illusion

The Rule of Law Illusion
         I am a white American woman, fifth generation descendant of Germany to American soil, and beloved wife of a Mexican. Under normal circumstances, this claim would evoke an evaluation of my loyalty toward my own country perhaps, but even more a question as to why would I want to stray from the marriage of a citizen from the United States. However, this claim is not under normal circumstance. This claim is admittance to an involvement in one of the grandest endeavors to eliminate an “undesirable” race in a country using tactics of racism that will perhaps ever be written in history. Presently in the United States the execution is underway of the elimination of Hispanic immigrants using Rule of Law as their only means to exalt their racist agendas. As a citizen, I have found contentment and a false sense of confidence in trusting that our nation would guard me from harm, therefore never questioning racism from a naïve white girl’s point of view. It was ultimately one of the most significant moments in my life when the realization of truth became my driving force into the future. I could quietly accept that my relationship with an unauthorized Mexican man would be packaged with the unfortunate miscalculations for my future, or I could defend what being an American is to me, an exception to the rule, that is not defined as a place, but as a spirit that lives within us to be American, against nativist that have as much of a right to their say in my country as I do. In my search for justice for my own family’s rights, I have found myself engulfed in a racist movement. The racist movement that is currently taking place in the United States against the Hispanic/Latino immigrant is being led by the infiltration of our government body to cater to the nativist power as the supreme and ultimate last word.
          The government’s disregard of family unity is an undeniable feature to call our attention to. Our country is filled with emphasis on the value of family being at the heart of every law, health, education, and religion. We are to promote our value of family in our actions to protect the components of that family structure. We assume that family is the basic highlight of the all American good life with the impression that the government is there to push for corresponding legislation to represent this assumption. However, we find that this is only a mask when it comes to the true reality of what is happening to the families that are presently involved in the entanglement of forces moving to dismember the Hispanic/Latino immigrant’s family unit. An acquaintance of mine, Bob Libal, Texas senior organizer at the Grassroots Leadership commented, “I think we already knew that the deportation system drains a lot of resources, but now we also know that there are all these additional costs… [and] our immigration system doesn’t prioritize family unification” (as cited in Trevio, 2011).  Remorse has been replaced with intentions of humanism. The United States government has sought to destroy the family of the Hispanic/Latino immigrant with the enforcement of new legislation.  The booming business of privately owned detention centers becomes the means to severe the ties between child and parent. In a study called Disappearing Parents, we find that, “immigrant parents are being separated from their children, at times permanently, due to the complex and uncoordinated interactions between the immigration enforcement system and the child welfare system” (as cited in The University of Arizona, pg 10, para 2). This is thought to be a subject ‘not of our concern’ as Americans and we look on this tragedy with an air of responsibility to the parent who made the unlawful decision to cross the border illegally, bringing upon his own demise. Would that be a true statement in itself or is that something that I would have myself thought in my naïve frame of mind before I knew the truth? If we look to the Constitution, which by all means is our lifeline to rule of law and we compare to the treatment of the parent being detained or deported and the child being taken as a ward of the state, we see an injustice served regarding due process, all in the name of supposed justice. “Undocumented immigrant parents are entitled to these same due process protections in the context of proceedings regarding their parental rights… a system that afforded them different rights in this context would be irreconcilable with the long history of cases establishing that undocumented immigrants retain certain constitutional rights by virtue of their presence in the country” (as cited in The University of Arizona, 2011, pg 28, para 1). This particular study gave recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security, Child Protection Services, and Congress itself to plea with them to modify their intentions to preserve the family unit value and has blatantly been ignored by all. We currently are witness to “at least 5,100 children in 22 states [that] are currently in foster care, and if the current pace of deportations continue, ARC [American Research Center] expects that number to rise to 15,000 children in the next five years” (as cited in Gavett, Nov 2011, para 3).  These numbers reflect the amount of families only that are affected that have “American” children to only “unauthorized” parents. It does not reflect on the numbers of families separated due to the broken immigration system in its entirety. “Since Obama took office, his administration has deported more than a million people” (as cited in Gavett, 2011, para 3). These children and parents deserve the respect but instead are treated like their lives mean nothing; labeled criminals. That is our government’s argument to continue.
        My own family has been affected. There has not been a deportation or a detention in our history. We went to his home country of Mexico after starting our relationship in the USA. I never dreamed that as an American citizen I would not have enough weight in my citizenship to pull my husband and father of my children into our country to live with us as a family. There is a lot of anger in that reality. With that anger I have searched for answers only to meet many people enduring the same circumstances as myself, many of which have been through the court system. The verdict is not always a fair deal for these families. Many are never allowed to return to the United States when their husband receives a lifetime ban for a previous unauthorized visit, and some of them are allowed to return after their ten or twenty year bans are satisfied. There is not too much relief in these situations, but only deep loss and a dependency on each other to stay afloat while waiting for the lifeboat to happen along. We are all waiting for this miracle, patiently, as our children do not stop from growing. Our letters to the government officials do not come back with answers, but rather with a thank you for your concern automated letter. We are led to believe through every news article that we read that we are not being heard, or our pain even contemplated. Our families are becoming nothing more than casualties.
      “Nativist efforts to restrict immigration through legislation are obviously legal, yet scholars and various ethnic and immigrant organizations are quick to label the legislative activists of nativist organizations as ‘racist’ (Hingham 1965, Tatalobich, 1995)” (as cited in The Politics of Immigration and National Integration, 2005, para 60). Our United States government has put much effort into the recent movement of immigration enforcement as has been the history of our country. In the foundation building of the American attitude, European influential literature and politics reflect their dislikes of the differences in people, the exalting of ego that followed racism ideals of those ‘others,’ including that of Americans. Governor Morris, of the highest reaches of American society and who wrote the phrase, “We the People of The United States in order to form a more perfect union…” exclaimed after a visit to Europe, “I feel very stupid in the group... [for Americans] are ignorant of the charms of good French society” (as cited in Painter, 2010, pg 97, para 3). How rough the new world would compare to Europe. The pressure to conform to attract those with the influence of wealth to embark to relocate to the United States would have created enough incentive to adopt the Euro-centric attitudes of separating the “desirables.”  There has even been “serious question as to whether the founding principle of the Republican Party would be its opposition to slavery, or its animus towards [certain] immigrants” (as cited in Bender and Leone, 1992, pg 17, para 2).  In efforts to control the flood of people who were different than the nativist, the multiple attempts to establish immigration law over the past century have conveniently changed to suit and ensure the best outcome of minimization of the discomfort that immigration brings. The first Quota Law, in 1921, based on the percentage of each nationality’s population in the U.S., was changed within a few years considering that,
 “…once people realized that the great waves of 1890 to 1910 had already allowed large numbers of the ‘undesirables’ into the United States, they revised the law with the 1924 National Origins Quota System Act, which based its limitations on the 1890 census… ensured that the largest number of new immigrants after 1924 would come from the less threatening northern and western European countries” (as cited in Bender and Leone, 1992, pg 188, para 2). 
The past and present day amendments and new bills and laws proposed, show a long history of needs for racism in order to control the masses by the cliché of a certain type of individual that have designed a system to protect their powerful positions above the rest.
America has more potential than this.
     An amazing friend of mine, Emily Nelson Guzman, took her own family’s ordeal into the public eye when her husband, Pedro, was detained in a privately own facility in Georgia. They went back to that place together with their son, this month during a vigil performed outside the gates of the detention center, with others that rally in opposition to the racist, inhumane treatment of the detainees. She spoke in front of a crowd later that evening in a nearby workshop for immigrant rights…
“It took 596 days for them to give Pedro a day in court and finally give him permanent residency. Every one of those days was a profit for CCA (Corrections Corporation of America). In the first quarter of 2011, CCA’s net income was $40.3 million and with each quarter their income increases. Each time there is a new anti-immigrant law like SB-1070 in Arizona or HB-87 in Georgia, their ‘beds’ fill up with immigrants and their profits increase…. CCA was at the original planning discussion to initiate SB-1070 because they profit from harsh immigration laws” (as cited in Bring Pedro Home, 2011).
Emily and her husband represent thousands just like them. The United States government is proposing to uproot and destroy families all in the name of rule of law with racism intentions.
     How do we define this treatment and what is our opposition? “The term racism, refers to acts of discrimination based solely on the racial characteristics of an individual or an entire people” (as cited in Racism, 2002, para 1). The racial characteristic is obviously that of the Hispanic/Latino immigrant, labeled “illegal” because of their unauthorized status. “In their 1994 book ‘The Immigration Invasion,’ Wayne Lutton and John Tanton explore immigration consequences in such areas as health and welfare costs, the labor market, the politics of race, crime, and quality of life… that the third world influx threatens to swamp not just the United States, but also Europe” (as cited in Bender & Leone, 1996, pg 124, para 2). The inventive argument that the nativist attempts to instill into the minds of America is that we are to find discomfort in the immigrant’s journey to “our” land because it will bring about a lower quality standard to the rest of us. Unfortunately, many powerful men like Lutton and Tanton are able to use that power in the political ring. Congressman Lamar Smith has become one of the key players in drafting and exerting bills and laws to eliminate the rights to, or any hope of rights of citizenship to the immigrants. He has helped change the laws that make it nearly unattainable to achieve citizenship status. His goal to sell his idea that Arizona’s anti-immigrant laws are quite practical, as “the problem of course, is that the people of Arizona are not the opponent – Arizonans, like other Americans, are on the side of the law” (as cited in Smith, 2010). Lamar and the like with their political affairs are super influential in the plight of the immigrant’s life. We are to believe that the “Rule of Law” should be upheld. The nativist racist’s fallacious argument is based on the problems made mostly of untrue statements inflicting fear that the immigrant brings detrimental consequences to our country and that perhaps our country will suffer with the immigrants’ presence.
         We are a nation of immigrants. The history of assimilation has brought to our country strength, diversity, color, and vibrancy through the many cultures and ethics of work, pleasures, and of course food. Contradictory to the nativist claim that we are a single unit American people, our Melting Pot characterization initiated because of our love and embrace of the immigrant and everything that each one of them contributes to our country. Our families are part of this American heritage that we defend so valiantly and because of that reason we find that the use of the Rule of Law is being deliberately manipulated. Take into account that Article nine of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights founded in December of 1948, which says, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile” (as cited in United Nations, 2011). In accordance to the “Rule of Law,” if this law were to be made by the United Nations, then there will not be an arbitrary decision when it comes to the law. Based on this concept, any random choice, personal whim, or racist agenda, would be deemed as against the rule of law according to the United Nations. If no one will be subjected to arbitrary arrest, according to this law, would not the relation between the fact that most of these immigrants are fully assimilated into the United States, just as a productive citizen, be introduced as enough of a reason to perceive a contradiction of protection of their rights, Americans without documents per say? These immigrants were invited by employment, from the United States citizens themselves, with hopes and promises of better lives. The lack of ability to acquire the proper documentation even with the most extreme cases with American citizen spouses and children nonetheless, more or less accomplishes the presentation of impossibility that the immigrant faces. These new bills and laws reflect the taste of racism in the underhanded profit seeking agenda that the unforeseen and unjust seizure of people’s lives and families. We find that in the rule of law “that no person is punishable except for a breach of law established in the ordinary manner before the ordinary courts of the land’ this is in contrast to arbitrary power and excludes wide discretionary authority” (as cited in Clark, para 9) and with this statement how can we promote that the recent anti-immigrant laws be grounds to rip apart families of established people has in fact been ordinary, but more arbitral in agenda? That establishment alone should be in question as the law of the undocumented cannot obtain documents, but lives as a citizen. One of the greatest fallacies that the nativist shoves at the public in its defense is the fact that immigrants do not pay taxes. However taxes are paid contrary to the “myth” of the nativist propaganda,
“…immigrants pay income tax using … Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers... employers withhold federal, state and local taxes… between half and three fourths pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes... real estate taxes… pay payroll taxes, and that they contribute US$6-7 billion in Social Security funds that they will be unable to claim” (as cited in Border Angels, 2010, Myth 2).
     Who is to question this “Rule of Law” that was made for the nativist intentions of harming certain individuals? The Declaration of Independence states that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it” (Declaration of Independence, 1776).  For that reason, our country is founded on the rule of fairness to all that have staked their claim in the future progress of America, including the many families that have been mutilated by the racist agendas of the nativist in power.
       In conclusion, I will not accept the hasty assumption that the nativist of the United States has the upper hand in their fallacious arguments and claims to “Rule of Law” when they seemingly are not following that same concept themselves. What about the moral obligation to the families that are being separated in the effort to obliterate the lives of the unauthorized person. Assimilation into our extremely diverse nation of The United States of America, and creating prosperity for our country, as well as blessings, of cultural blending and increased well needed work force is an undeniable attribute of the immigrant, not resting solely on color but on character. Everyone in America has many different cultures that make up who they are either by blood or by exposure that we are all not so different from each other. That is what America is. Immigrants are in a position of asking to be accepted rather than through the traditional birth rights. We should no longer deny their plight. It is not befitting for the immigrant to be cattled down the alleyways of racist manipulation for narrowest options of survival. What we are creating is an ideal situation for racial hate, when embracing diversity is America’s vibrant personality trait. The racist movement that is currently taking place in the United States against the Hispanic/Latino immigrant is being led by the infiltration of our government body to cater to the nativist power as the supreme and ultimate last word.

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Bender, D. & Leone, B., (1996). Interracial America, Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven Press, Inc., San Diego, California
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