Friday, December 5, 2014

breast cancer

If I knew then what I know now, I would have went to the doctor immediately when I felt the lump instead of waiting a couple months assuming it was just milk - because we have all been told that breast-feeding is a preventative measure - and I was nursing at that time.
The green on this photo is the lymph node system - they help with infection fighting. It was described to me as a "string of pearls" that was somewhat
draped over the breast area. At one point in early treatment, ink was injected into the nipple area. This ink travelled to the "gate keeper" lymph node - the first lymph node that anything leaving the breast comes in contact with (remember the string of pearls). The ink that was injected pointed out the gate keeper lymph nodes and they were then surgically removed and tested for cancer. (in my case, negative)
If you look on the actual breast, there are ducts that lead from the milk-producing glands to the nipple (for baby). Ductal carcinoma is formed in the ducts. Lobular carcinoma is formed in the milk-glands. Invasive carcinoma means that it has grown into the surrounding tissue, and noninvasive (usually benign) is more of a contained type of cyst. So you get a diagnosis of Invasive ductal carcinoma: it means that it started in the duct, and is now grown into the surrounding tissue. If you have lobular carcinoma, that is when the cancer has formed in the milk-glands (those big sac looking things on the picture).
Sometimes women have two or more tumors in a breast. If it is unifocal, that means there is only one tumor. If it is multifocal, that means there are two or more tumors that have formed because they broke away from the original tumor. They are usually close together then. Sometimes there are two unrelated tumors that formed on their own and one did not originate from the other. That is called multicentric. This is what I had. I had a tumor that was invasive ductal, 3cm+ that was the originally found tumor, picked up on a mammogram. Later it was found that I also had an invasive lobular tumor, 1-cm in size, missed by the mammogram, but found only through a breast MRI. The first and larger tumor (ductal) was like an acorn under my skin. I could feel it and wiggle it around. It was located half-way between nipple and armpit over on the upper side of my breast. The lobular tumor was on the underneath side close to the nipple and close to the surface of my skin.
When a surgeon is to surgically remove a tumor, either through a mastectomy or lumpectomy, there is a suggested one-centimeter margin to be considered between unhealthy and healthy cells. That is to ensure that when cancer tumor is taken out, none is accidentally left behind to keep growing. For me, the larger ductal tumor was found to be really close to the chest wall, or muscles, and is why I had to have chemo treatment prior to surgery. The hope was to shrink the tumor away from the muscle to produce a larger margin before surgically removing it. The smaller lobular tumor was close to the nipple/skin. Although I insisted for the surgeon to keep my body in tact as much as possible, which he agreed to, three days following my surgery (bilateral, or double, mastectomy) my skin died. This created a need for an emergency surgery to remove the dying skin which was turning purple. The reason it was dying was because when the lobular tumor was removed, the one-centimeter margin for the surgeon to successfully remove the tumor came too close to the skin's surface. Ultimately there was not enough tissue left behind for the skin to survive, so it died.
Cancer can move from the breast via the lymph nodes pretty easily. After it has, there is a bigger fight to survive. It can also move through the surrounding tissue, like the bones in the rib-cage or the muscles of the chest wall, or even the blood stream can carry little cancer cells and they end up growing elsewhere in the body. For example if it travels to the skin, that breast cancer original cancer on the skin is diagnosed as untreatable, whereas a skin cancer with origins of an actual skin cancer is treatable. Once it is in other parts of the body, there is a lower survival rate.
The cancer itself is graded. It is done with what is called a Nottingham Score which is comprised of three parts - all separate from each other and one does not affect the other. These three parts are tubule, nuclear, mitotic
- each getting three possible points. So when the cancer is rated, there is a possible score of 3 (one point each) or a score of 9 (each part having 3-pts each). Having a score of 3 is good, and having a score of 9 is bad. My Nottingham Score was 7/9, tubule 3, nuclear 3, mitotic 1, moderately differentiated.
The tubule score is determined by examining the cancer cells and how they nest together - if they are forming clusters around a tube like opening, typical of what normal breast cells do (forming ducts, etc) then they get a score of 1. If the tumor cells are forming nests of solid cells without an open, tube-like center, then they are performing unlike the normal breast cells would. Those will get a score of 3. It is showing that these cells are not behaving like they are supposed to, and have a mind of their own. This is a measurement of how different the cancer cell is behaving from its original cell that it mutated from.
The nuclear score is determined by looking at the tumor cells' nuclei. In a score of 1, the nuclei are all dark black uniformed in size and round shape and are patterned in somewhat of rows of cells (the nuclei is the center of the cell). In a score of 3, being yuk, the nuclei are varied in color from black to grey, they have holes in them, they have no pattern because the cells that surround them are also messed up. They have various shapes and are obvious cells turned into little monsters. This is a measurement of how ugly the cancer is.
Then the mitotic score is based on mitosis rate, which is the rate at which a cell is being split apart. If this gets a score of 1, the rate is like 10 splits and the score of 3 is 20 splits of mitosis in cancer cells. This is a measurement of the rate of growth.
All of these are taken into consideration when determining the cell differentiation grade. Grade-I is well differentiated, grade-II is moderate, grade-III is poor, grade-IV is undifferentiated (which means basically that the cancer has its own life now).
When combining the grade of cell differentiation (which means how different is the cell from its original cell it mutated from and how tough it is) with the cancer "stage" it determines a cancer patient survival rate.
Basically, as far as my research project on differences of Black women's health disparity in breast cancer survival rate - a subtype called triple negative (called so because it is unresponsive to three hormone treatments - example I am estrogen dominant as is my cancer so I take estrogen inhibitors now for another 5-yrs). This subtype has a Grade of poorly differentiated or undifferentiated cells, and the mitosis rate is rapid. The tumor is usually detected then after it is large and has already spread to the lymph nodes. The chances of survival are not good due to those biological facts. When it is combined with the disparities in healthcare access, the lower survival rate is compounded by the lack of potential for early detection and access to aggressive treatment. Also, the triple negative subtype attacks younger women who are not expecting to be diagnosed with breast cancer - also complicating an early detection. I recommend preventative measures such as awareness and yearly mammograms performed on young women. (even though an MRI is far better at detection - obviously my second tumor was not even detected in the mammogram at 1-cm in size).
It is not always an older woman health issue. I was 43, diagnosed with ductal cancer avg age of 50+, and lobular avg age of 60+. Those averages tend to lull women into a false sense of assuredness at a younger age.
Most important, don't ever assume the doctor is going to explain any of this to you as a patient because google is how I figured out what was happening to me most of the time. For example, I was sanitized, ready for surgery in a few moments, handed a consent form for silicone to be put into my body despite the risks. Right at the last minute before my double mastectomy. I said well isn't that supposed to be bad for me? Be proactive with your health

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Responsibility of Poverty



The Responsibility of Poverty

Child and Family Advocacy

November 5, 2014


Poverty expands the globe and stretches over time through economic changes and historical eras. There has always been poverty, and we can assume that there always will be poverty.  Attempts to cure poverty that are documented in our legislation seem to only prolong it with a bit of reluctant temporary relief for some of the needy. The United States’ social programs provide career spaces for intervention. Media taboo at covering the truth of poverty’s effects on families serves to keep the majority ignorant and distracted while covering for behind the scenes pocket-lining. As a result, our societal support for public policy that aids poor is met by loathing of the so-called sloths.

The exploration of what it is like to be poor tends to bring pity, but the action to solve poverty has a different character. The dominant decide the fate of the dominated without fully understanding the affected poor person’s struggle. The foundation for public attitude towards poverty begins with the government policy, with media that is created by the political and economically elite, and then it goes into the minds of the average person. Those living in poverty are the bottom class status, with a narrowed version of quality of life and limited capability—the hopeless who survive but not thrive. Poverty creates the desperate gleaners of society: ultimately they get what is left over, if even.

Following the War of 1812, America began to grow due to immigration and trade. In New York this marked the beginning of the tenement housing. This lifestyle is documented in the Jacob Riis classic, How the Other Half Lives. The first tenement house was called the “rear house” and was a home that used to belong to the wealthy aristocratic Manhattan family, the Knickerbockers (Riis, 2010).  All of the homes along the river were once inhabited by the wealthier crowd, but were now rented out to the poor as tenement-housing. Tenement houses were once a blessing for a hard-working poor family to have a home, and that was the case until the corruption of the landlord losing sight of healthy living conditions and tolerance of misbehavior of the tenants (Riis, 2010). Around 1857 (when the Republican Party began) these homes were remodeled by their real-estate and boarding-house agents, to accommodate for more families per home. This required drastic partitioning of rooms into smaller rooms (sometimes window-less). The wealthier were taking an opportunity to make the most money on the poor. The conditions of these homes were dilapidated and the landlords blamed the conditions on the tenants’ destructive behavior which went without accountability (Riis, 2010). The landlords were only after the rent and overlooked the needs of the people. Poverty creates a vulnerable group of people based on the desperate fashion of survival and their lowered expectations of their own treatment.

At the end of the 1800’s, the Settlement House movement began. “Inspired by the efforts of Canon Samuel Barnett’s Toynbee Hall in London to bring the privileged and underprivileged together to overcome the effects of spiritual and social disintegration, Stanton Coit and Charles B Stover founded the Neighborhood Guild of New York City in 1887” (Stern & Axinn, 2012, p. 107). The plan was to help integrate the immigrants by living with them in a settlement house. These educated people felt that society would benefit from their efforts. Then in 1889, came Jane Addams with her Chicagoan-established Hull House (Stern & Axinn, 2012). The success of Jane Addams was not just the historical initiation of social work as a profession. She also balanced her protection of them by ensuring their autonomy and dignity. In her book, Twenty Years at Hull House, Addams writes about how “heart-breaking” unemployment was for the neighborhood that she worked with. Addams (1910) describes how these people were taken advantage of and became victims of the “padrone who fleeced them unmercifully” (p. 221), or how they became the “mere sport of unscrupulous employment agencies” (Addams, 1910).

Hull-House made an investigation both of the padrone and of the agencies in our immediate vicinity, and the outcome confirming what we already suspected, we eagerly threw ourselves into a movement to procure free employment bureaus under State control until a law authorizing such bureaus and giving the officials intrusted with their management power to regulate private employment agencies, passed the Illinois Legislature in 1899. (Addams, 1910)

Addams (1910) references Tolstoy’s story “What to Do,” which describes his efforts to “relieve the unspeakable distress in the Moscow winter of 1881” (p. 260). His conviction was that “only he who literally shares his own shelter and food with the needy, can claim to have served them” (Addams, 1910). Addams (1910) discusses her point of view that the resident “social workers” at the Settlement House were impatient with the cooperation and methods of society for dealing with the problems of poverty, but through the twenty years, they saw the “charitable people, through their very knowledge of the poor, constantly approach nearer to those methods formerly designated as radical” (p. 306). This real solution for poverty has the benefits of accountability of the poor, guidance, and exact resource links alleviating the guesswork. Addams approached legislation without hesitation because she knew exactly what is genuinely needed to happen for those without a voice.

In the worst of environments today the poor suffer poverty-stricken conditions in a nation of a wealth of resources. In a long-term study by author Jonathan Kozol, A Fire in the Ashes, he describes people living in appalling poverty. This was a twenty-five year study of tenement housing in New York by documenting the lives and struggles of the tenants and their children. Many of the tenants were displaced by broken marriages, due to death, divorce, abuse or other causes. The story of Alice Washington, for example, a 42 year old woman with positive outlook even in her hopeless condition, offers a sense of stability to those around her. She ended up in the deplorable tenement houses due to an abusive husband and was somewhat of a mother figure for many of the young mothers in the same living conditions of filth and poverty. Her healthcare was limited and available only when she was near death, which occurred several times over the years. She suffered from many ailments, but in the end died from a combination of cancer and HIV/AIDS (Kozol, 2012). There were problems in these tenement houses that were mainly a result of the lack of aid. There was no one responsible or accountable for these people’s existence. Drug-use and crime went without consequence. Health care and health maintaining resources were not offered. There was nothing but the use of raw survival skills among these people. Some of the children, like Silvio, another character in Fire in the Ashes, didn’t fare so well in the tenement houses due to the pressures of gangs, street-life, inequality of opportunity, lack of resources, and other issues related to poverty that caused him to have a violent death at a young age (Kozol, 2010). The experiences show are so traumatic in cases of extreme poverty that the people involved seem to lose hope in the system.

Within these two books, Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives, and Jonathan Kozol’s Fire in the Ashes, there are several similarities, yet one documentation is in the 1800’s and the other is in modern-day times. The similarities are the decrepit housing conditions, the unavailable aid and links to valuable, operational resources, and most important, someone responsible overseeing the entire program. Jane Addam’s Hull-House, however, is a success. The hopelessness of eradicating poverty is a reality, deterring people from becoming radical about the issue because of the common sense that wealth is not evenly distributed, so why bother? There will always be poverty.

The stereotypes of families living in poverty are substance abuse, domestic violence, child neglect, lack of goals, and, the eugenicist’s favorite, lesser intelligence of those who are raised in poor areas. “Strong families have troubled lives also. To be a strong family is not to be without troubles, it is much more: it is the presence in the family of important guidelines for living and the ability as a family to surmount life’s inevitable challenges when they arise” (Stinnett & DeFrain, 1985).  America has some people who feel that they are more deserving and have a need to have their own people separated from the poor.  The Bell Curve is based on a Social Darwinist type of eugenicist view. The main point of the book is to promote the idea that “the isolation of the cognitive elite is compounded by its choices of where to live, shop, play, worship, and send its children to school” (Herrnstein & Murray).  

The Census determines who is considered to be poor by the material possessions that a family has, such as an X-box, a microwave, or cable TV (Smiley & West, 2012). What this implies is that possessing material items, even if those things are used or dug from the garbage of another’s house, constitutes a level of wealth. The rich are not going to be willing to give up the fight against paying taxes to help the poor when the Census suggests that being poor is what one makes of it. Compare America’s poverty situation with Brazil’s. At the turn of the century when all of the immigrants were flooding into the Americas, European immigrants were encouraged to settle to increase the white vote over the black natives, and slowly the black natives were pushed to the Northeast of Brazil where it was already economically declining anyway (Penn, 2005). Today, Brazil is home to some of the world’s poorest children, even though their country is in the upper third percent of the world’s per capita income (Penn, 2005). This shameful inequality among the people in Brazil is due to the same factors as the United States and every other country have—the social and political elite, who only care about their own. The conclusion then would be that there will always be people living in poverty.

There need to be relief efforts set into place that are significantly stronger than past attempts. Past failures need to be examined to prioritize how modern concepts are formulated. United States must strive to make its safety nets for families better than those of other nations. A study in the American Journal of Public Health determined that any inequality in income distribution of a country causes the life expectancy to be lowered. The rich do not want to put any tax money into valued community efforts for public services like hospitals and schools (In Ore, 2011). This does not hurt them, but it hurts the rest of the country. There is lack of funds to attribute to what the majority of the country needs to maintain health, but the inequality of income distribution creates lower life expectancy for the entire country.

Throughout the 1800’s power and control of America’s wealthiest over the poor created problems in the society of poverty. Solutions to social issues were experimental. The Orphan Train, founded by Charles Loring Brace, was a back-up plan to place children when their parents were financially ruined. This was done instead of just ensuring family unity with financial aid. Jane Addams brought harmony to the immigrant poor population by establishing the Hull House in Chicago, as well as legislation initiatives for those poor. The Charity Organization Society made their best attempts at setting fine examples of moral behavior as they visited the poor. In the 1800’s, the rich were getting richer with industry and paid their workers the poor wages (Smitha, 2014). Their rationalization was that the workers could work hard enough if they wanted to change the way that they lived (Smitha, 2014). The bottom line of the relationship between the rich and poor in the 1800’s was that there was no responsibility to aid made into law, so that was it. The rich were not made to do it, so they did not.

The wealthy have maintained those same basic characteristics in attitude towards the poor over the generations; however, there has been great progress in awareness of poverty’s needs too.  In A New Framework for the Study of Power, Lowi describes the antecedents of progress, such as the Sixteenth Amendment that authorized income tax in 1913 when World War I began. Then in 1933, Franklin D Roosevelt introduced the New Deal to raise individual taxes and formed several programs to initiate some wealth redistribution (Lowi, 1970). “The poverty line was first set by the government in 1964, when it was determined that an income of $3,000 for the year was considered adequate to meet the needs of an urban family of four” and that salary was divided up into expected expenditures, accounting for a third of it to go towards food (Burton, 1992). Taxes were a way of accommodating the deficiencies in the lives of the poor. In 1986 however the Tax Reform Act enabled the rich to achieve loopholes (Lowi, 1970). By the time Clinton was put into office in the early 1990’s, the technology boom produced an economic spirit. In 1994, when the Republicans captured congress with their anti-Clinton initiative, the White House became conservative and measures like the 1996 Welfare Reform were passed. Meanwhile, back on Wall Street, the rich were collecting all of the money (Phillips, 2002). By the end of the twentieth century, the gap was established between the rich and the poor as the infamous 1% began. At every milestone of the poor people in need, the wealthy population was using their position in society to make the decisions about the poor’s survival. In an interview with Frank Norris, the author of Octopus, he says:

When a new road penetrates a new country or a new locality it is necessarily in itself a trust. That community through which the solitary road runs takes on new life. But in time, if another road does not penetrate the same locality, the original road, the trust, will get the better of the shippers in that community. If a second road enters the locality, however, and competes with the first road then there is a war and the farmer benefits thereby. As soon as the farmer begins to get prosperous at the expense of the competing roads the latter combine and the farmer or shipper gets the worst. (Norris, 1901)

In other words, the poor have the power to accept or reject the power of the wealthy, but instead they trust them because those wealthy bring opportunity due to the potential inherent in their resources. The problem, or the resulting maltreatment of the poor, is that the power that the wealthy accumulate attracts conflict for them from competitors who want the same power. The end result is the poor get railroaded, literally. The wealthy find ways of keeping their seat safe from the competition. This can be done by promoting the needs of other wealthy to create their own safety net. Then the wealthy are one moving system running over the needs of the poor who originally gave the wealthy their power in trust and in hope. Power and control over another human inevitably leads to abuse, unless someone accepts responsibility for the needs of the powerless.

The media has shown bias in the favor of the wealthy, white, Republican men and their opinions (Peck, 2012). The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was pushed through Congress from the lobbyists represented by the wealthy station owners. Those wealthy owners increased their control. As the local programmers lost control, broadcast came under control of the wealthy (Missmollyana, 2011). What used to be fifty corporations dominating the media are now only six corporations who control what America is exposed to in the media (Snyder, 2010). One of those corporations is owned by Mr. Rupert Murdoch, an immigrant from Australia. Murdoch’s media empire includes Fox Television, the Dow Jones (Parent Corporation of The Wall Street Journal), The Boston Herald, The London Times, The New York Post, and more. “Mr. Murdoch may be best known in this country as the man who created Fox News as a counterweight to what he saw as a liberal bias in the news media” (Becker, 2007). Murdoch pays out eleven-million dollars to his army of lobbyists (Becker, 2007). An article written in a business magazine captures the drama surrounding the results of the Nielsen Media Research showing sharp drops in ratings by minority viewers for Fox Television programs. Murdoch did not want to hear that, so he launched a smear campaign on the Nielsen Research and their CEO, Susan Whiting. In the end, Nielsen’s research only concluded that the drop in ratings for Fox channels was due to the fact that the minorities chose to watch local channels instead (Bianco & Grover, 2004). Murdoch gets his own way by force, almost bullying, his way through corporate America. His anti-liberal media goals reek of power.  Among the biggest fans of Fox Television are the Tea Baggers, a group that identify themselves as Conservative Republicans. “In this iteration of conservative mobilization, Republican elites [and Tea Baggers] have been able to rely on powerful conservative media sources, led by Fox News” (Williamson, Skucpol, Coggin, 2001). According to the article The Tea Party and the remaking of Republican Conservatism, the Tea Baggers rely on Fox News for support and for connection to their conservative topics. The majority of the group is white, high-income men with a primary concern in America of government spending on social welfare (except for their own Social Security, the highest amount of expenditure dispersed in social welfare).  “Opposition is concentrated on resentment of perceived federal government ‘handouts’ to ‘undeserving’ groups, the definition of which seems heavily influenced by racial and ethnic stereotypes . . . particularly ‘welfare’ mothers” (Williamson, Skucpol, Coggin, 2001). The entire topic becomes ironic when the total amount of government subsidies that News Corp, owned by Murdoch, accumulated since 2005, was found to reach $33,090,399 (Good Jobs First, 2014). An Alternet article describes how Mr. Murdoch successfully found loopholes to escape 2 out of 4 years of taxes with the other two years being incomplete payments, with domestic pretax profits topping $9.4 billion. The article also makes the point that Murdoch’s empire advertises for corporations like General Motors that have had government bail-outs with tax-payer money (Howard, 2011). In America those that are against assisting the poor in surviving, apparently are not ashamed to admit it—even on television and media, which they actually use as a tool to emphasize that perspective.

Throughout the history of the United States there have been both the greed of the rich and oppression of the poor. Iniquities come with rewards of power, and someone has to lose.


The greed and power of wealth have found ways of keeping their seat in society over time using the oppression of the poor. The resolution in this conflict is obvious if historical failures and successes are explored. Finding loopholes and weaving socioeconomic webs produce individual power, but harm the overall economy for the majority.

I recommend that legislation to end loopholes be held accountable by a dedicated task force. During the 1990’s the government passed several reform acts affecting population segments (in particular 1996) allowing the wealthy to excel. It also caused those who value equality to be distracted by the detail of the many reforms for socioeconomic and social welfare which allowed for backdoor economic corruption.

I recommend responsibility for poverty at the legislative level in form of special, unnegotiable taxes for those individuals who have used their financial wizardry to accumulate most of our country’s money. This responsibility holds the population accountable as a whole system and eliminates the abusive powers associated with economic monopoly.

I recommend tenement housing for those who live in poverty. Past failures must be examined to avoid deplorable conditions. The success of Jane Addams can be taken as an example. Tenement housing with guidelines could benefit a family better than the current TANF system of welfare. The barriers associated with tenement housing are only in circumstances of neglect and irresponsibility. The National Social Worker Association should be given control of this rather than the direct control of government agencies working alone because they obviously are acting on behalf of another population.

Providing protection with tenement housing offers a person direction for their independence if done correctly. A program formed that categorized a person’s position using formulas would then place them in a track to achievement while providing guidance and accountability. Categories can be accessed by using a formula that included racial disparities, education level, sex, dependent children, legal barriers and other types of barriers to create a plan for individual potential to be maximized. House laundry, childcare, classes, training and planning exercises could be programmed with parent-like guidance over planned time-lines. The working would have to save their money and turn in weekly bank statements proving they are not spending their money (unless authorized to do so). At the end of the time-line of the program, the saved money is used for the next step to independence. A person is not released from the program until all barriers are relinquished such as educational and training so that a stable future is possible. Social workers will live on site and oversee all activity, including curfews, drug free zones, daily room checks, and weekly paperwork turned in from the tenants. A weekly grocery trip with their social worker present will assure nutrition to each member and accountability to the funding for food subsidy.

 Inequality is a part of the cons of having freedom, but there is at least an expectation of the dignity and worth of everyone. If equality is not available, demonstrate what has been learned by history and create legislation requiring the top percentage of wealthy to give back to the poor. As the wealthy have fully displayed their skill at acquiring the wealth of our country, they need to expect to be required to support those people that have been subjects of their financial and social brilliance.





Addams, J. (1910). Twenty years at Hull-House: with autobiographical notes. New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco: The Macmillan Company.

Becker, Jo. (2007, June 25). Murdoch, ruler of a vast empire, reaches out for even more: The New York Times. Retrieved from

Bianco, Anthony & Grover, Ronald. (2004, Sept 19). How Nielsen stood up to Murdoch: Bloomberg Business Week Magazine. Retrieved from

Burton, C.E. (1992). The poverty debate: Politics and the poor in America. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press

Good Jobs First. (2014).Accountable development and smart growth for working families. Retrieved from

Herrnstien, Richard J. & Murray, Charles. (1994). The Bell Curve: Intelligence and class structure in American Life. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Howard, M. (2011, March). How you end up bankrolling Fox News: News Corp and Rupert Murdoch weasel out of paying taxes: When gain, prosperous, multinational corporations get out of their tax obligations, ordinary citizens are the ones who are forced to make up the shortfall. Alter Net Retrieved from

Kozol, Jonathon. (2012). Fire in the ashes: Twenty-five years among the poorest children in America. New York: Broadway Books/Random House, Inc.;

Lowi, T. (1970). The power elite in America. Ed. Crockett. USA: D.C Health and Company.

Missmollyana. (Mar 2011). Intro to Mass Communication: Telecommunication Act of 1996: Not an act to follow. Retrieved from

Norris, F. (1901). Nader, J. M.(2009). A Recovered Interview with Frank Norris. American Literary Realism 42(1), 79-82. University of Illinois Press. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from Project MUSE database.

Penn, Helen. (2005). Unequal childhoods: Young children’s lives in poor countries. New York, NY: Routledge

Phillips, K. (2002). Wealth and democracy: A political history of the American rich. New York, NY: Broadway Books

Ore, Tracy E. (2011). The social construction of difference and inequality: Race, class, gender, and sexuality. 5th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Peck, Adam. (2012, April). If its Sunday, its meet the Republican white men. Think Progress. Retrieved from

Riis, Jacob. (2010). How the other half lives: A Jacob Riis classic, (including photography). USA:

Smiley, Travis. & West, Cornel. (2012). The rich and the rest of us: A poverty manifesto. New York, NY: Smileybooks.

Smitha, Frank E. (2014). Macrohistory and world timeline: Industrialists against organized labor. Retrieved on from

Snyder, Michale. (2010, Oct). Who owns the media? The 6 Monolithic Corporations that control almost everything we watch, hear, and read. The Economic Collapse. Retrieved from

Stern, M.J. & Axinn, J. (2012). Social Welfare: A history of the American response to need. 8th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Stinnett, Nick. & DeFrain, John. (1985). Secrets of strong families. Canada: Little, Brown & Company.

Williamson, V., Skucpol, T., &  Coggin, J.  (2001, Mar). The Tea Party and the remaking of Republican Conservatism. Retrieved from…/files/tea_party_pop.pdf



























Friday, October 3, 2014

Family advocacy class homework: Write a (fake) letter to an office including personal position on a bill of choice.

September 24, 2014


President Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C.


Dear Mr. President:


I am writing to you in my support of H.R. 3431. This is a bill that aims to preserve the family unity between United States Citizens and a foreign national given a ban from entering our country due to prior undocumented status. This bill is not a loophole for immigrants to enter the country, but is an advocacy effort for family unity. The family is the key component to which all of our laws and customs are provided for. Our country can do better in our current immigration struggles, especially in this specific area of immigration—hardships dealt to our own citizens. These families deserve to have their rights honored and respected.


Our nation prides itself in protection and intervention efforts to support children and families in times of need. The United States has traditionally provided a safety net to families in distress that distinguishes us from third world countries. The families that are affected by the current immigration law are in need of intervention. I am asking for your personal intervention in the lives of these citizens of the United States.


The pending bill H.R. 3431, or “American Families United Act,” is for the purpose of preservation of United States Citizens families with an immigrant family member. These are United States Citizens lives that are being torn apart. There is no relief effort available. The emotional comparison for these families who have their family member deported or detained is death; however, there is no option to grieve, so these family members are stuck in emotional limbo. Their only relief is to fight for the safe return of their loved one. There are children who maintain a phone relationship with their parent. There are fathers who attend the birth of their child via Skype. There are mothers who struggle to not only survive as single moms, but deal with deep emotional scars as they fumble through the complicated immigration law. If these affected Americans want to keep their family together, sometimes their only option is to move with their American children to a foreign country to live with their deported spouse.


The United States has been deemed the Melting Pot thanks to Israel Zangwill’s turn of the century Broadway play that depicted the romance of two people with different nationalities living in the United States. Zangwill also said, “If they would but suffer to be melted in the pot, then they would become just as American as anyone else,” (PBS Online, n.d.). There is no justification for the separation of families due to lack of immigration reform.


As an American Citizen, it is difficult to imagine that a marriage is not honored by our government. It is hard to fathom that the weight of a person’s citizenship is not enough to pull in their immediate family member—but it is not. The Illegal Immigration Reform Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) has become a nemesis for families. Before 1996, the requirement for an unauthorized alien to marry a United States Citizen and acquire a legal visa was to simply pay a fine. Due to the IIRIRA of 1996, the action of obtaining a legal visa by paying a fine has been replaced with an automatic 3, 10, 20-year or lifetime ban from the United States regardless of marriage to a citizen. This ban is applied to the United States Citizens where there is a family.


The bill specifies in section two that Congress is to protect the rights and interests of the United States Citizen family members. It also seeks to provide the immigration court with discretion in proceedings in which a United States Citizen is an immediate family member. To place an immigration ban from the United States on a family member causes the entire American family to potentially be dislocated from our country. That is a denial of rights of protection for those citizens. “In many cases what triggers a banishment of three or ten years, even life, is a trivial or even wholly technical violation. It can be as inadvertent as being the passenger who nods when the driver is asked a question in a language not understood,” (AFU, 2014). Asking the United States citizen to choose between their spouse and their country is not a choice, it is an abuse.


These grieving citizens who have experienced a loss of spouse due to detention or deportation are desperate for relief. The 1996 IIRIRA bans that are placed on citizens’ spouses are making people vulnerable to unscrupulous lawyers.  The new electronic visa application submissions are “forms [that are] easier to fill out [that] would keep people from turning to fraudulent lawyers, also known as ‘notarios,’ who trick immigrants into paying high fees for services they either do not or cannot deliver,” (Wilson, 2014).


The private prison industry is benefitting. Each year billions of dollars are made in immigrant prisons. This is wrong. This is profit made through the abuse of human 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).

My dearest friend Emily is only one of thousands of United States Citizens whose spouse was taken from them. Today the annual profits are at a minimum of three billion a year due to the Continuing Appropriation Act of 2014 that requires a bed quota of 34,000 minimum immigrants to be in prison per day (Lindsey, 2014). How can we justify rich getting richer from arbitrary policy regarding the family of US citizens?


United States Citizen children have been affected. Separation from a parent is indeed a traumatic event not only dealing with the missing parent, but with the remaining parent’s stress and debilitated parenting skills, economic status, and legal battle. Laurel Scott is regarded by many in our family unity activism groups as one of the top immigration lawyers in the United States as well as advocate for family unification and helping other lawyers with this extremely complex law.


“Immigration law as it is written is too harsh. The effect of the law is often to keep foreign nationals from their children for a period of ten years or longer. If one polls convicted felons and asks them what the most difficult part of incarceration is, many will report that the separation from family is the hardest part. While a common sentence for manslaughter is one to three years in prison, one to three years away from one's family common "sentence" for immigration violations is ten years away from one's family. I'm not sure that's what Congress meant to do, because I don't think Congress contemplated the commonality of US citizens and unlawfully present immigrants falling in love and starting a family. There may be some unconscious racism in Congress' failure to consider just how often Americans and Mexicans fall in love. I think Congress also failed to consider how difficult it is for US citizens to move abroad. It is especially difficult for US citizen women to move to countries with a street harassment problem, which is quite common in much of the world. As Congress is mostly men, it is not surprising that they did not consider how inhospitable most of the world is to women. In the end, the law is very harsh, probably due to Congress' failure to consider all the factors.” (L. Scott, personal communication, September 23, 2014)


Let us consider the factors of what an American family would endure for family unity abroad: language and cultural barriers, financial barriers, health-care issues and educational barriers, to name a few. An American child attending public school in another country is at a disadvantage not only in assimilating initially to that country, but upon return when the ten year bar is able to be petitioned against with a hardship waiver. Educational barriers for American citizen children have rendered the No Child Left Behind law in complete disregarded. There is no Individual Education Plan (IEP) or tutoring offered for displacement upon return. The education that a child citizen is forced to miss in the formative years has everlasting effect. I am aware of these facts due to my education in Early Childhood Education and because of my own first-hand ethnographic accounts with my own children as well as stories of other families’ experiences shared with me.


Health-care is generally a step up from home-remedy. Giardia, a parasite found in water, is a common illness within the families living in exile. Exposure to the Chagas bug of Latin America that creates an incurable, life-threatening illness has become important enough to be questioned when giving blood at the Red Cross. They ask, “Have you lived in Latin America?” because if you are infected by this common bug, there is no cure. Numerous digestive issues are common due to the unrefrigerated meats. The lifestyle in general is incomparable to what a typical United States citizen ever will experience within the United States, without question. These are all experiences shared between affected American Citizens and with my own first-hand ethnographic accounts with health issues as an American with small children while living in Mexico.


How are families to survive when they cannot speak the language or are at a disadvantage financially because they cannot function in their spouse’s country? Many have found online work or are teaching English. Their wages are below American poverty level. They live without conveniences such as hot-water and large appliances that even our poor in America have. This is not my opinion, but it is a summarization of years of shared data among the families that this letter is regarding.


Then there are the families that are separated that simply cannot move abroad due to healthcare dependency for themselves or their child or for other reasons. Their marriage is completely held over a phone for months, sometimes years. Parenting becomes transformed into single-parenting. Any lack in a two-parent income falls onto the remaining parent. Applying for assistance requires a petition for child support from the missing parent. This would ultimately destroy their visa petition, appearing as an uncooperative parent when the order is revealed in the system. The impossibilities of financial contribution as a father are exacerbated when weekly salaries are sometimes forty to fifty dollars. Therefore, financial responsibility falls completely on the remaining parent, most of the time a mother, on top of the legal fees to file the extremely expensive visa process. It becomes near impossible for the family to afford to visit each other. I know this to be true from my own experience and from the shared experiences of other families in this situation that remain as unofficial published data.


Dear President Obama, “policymaking is a cyclical process” as Blumer expressed (Lens & Gibelman, 2000). This bill could help solve major issues within some very special and unique family situations that are no less deserving of their American citizen rights than you are. I am personally involved as a friend and activist for these families and have experienced both living in exile with my children, as well as, living years of separation from my former husband. It is a very difficult life full of trauma. The numbers are growing. What used to be tens of us have grown to be hundreds or perhaps thousands of families in a few short years. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “1.5 million undocumented immigrants are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, but have been unable to gain legal status themselves,” (Altman, 2014). It is not a fair situation nor does it express a quality of liberty or justice for any of them.


Thank you for your time and consideration regarding the issue of family unity for immigrants with American Citizen Spouses and the hardships that they endure due to current immigration law.