Illegally Yours: A Memoir Book Review

America has been built on the back of immigrants for over two hundred years. But in every generation, there are those who forget this and try to limit who can enter this country.

Illegally Yours: A Memoir, by Jane the Virgin writer by Rafael Agustin, was published this month. Born in Ecuador, Agustin entered the United States with his parents as a young boy. He believed himself to be as American as any other child. That belief is shattered when he tried to get his driver’s license in high school and is unable to do. When he gets home, Rafael is told that they entered the country illegally and have been undocumented ever since.

Though the truth is out, the question of Rafael’s future is now unknown.

I loved this memoir. His voice is so clear that you can easily see the world as he knew it to be then. The narrative speaks to the American dream and why so many have walked on that same path.

If nothing else, it reminded me of why my own relations immigrated more than a century ago. Their dreams of their future and their children’s future were the same as Agustin’s parents, even in a different time and place.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Illegally Yours: A Memoir is available wherever books are sold.

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America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families Book Review

America’s story, as a whole, is made up of millions of individual stories of immigrants. Unfortunately, there are some who for political reasons, conveniently forget these stories. But there are others in the corridors of power who are determined that new generations of immigrants are given the opportunities as past immigrants.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) is determined to not only keep these stories alive, he is equally determined to remind Americans about the inhuman treatment that those who wish to become Americans are experiencing. In his new book, America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families, Senator Merkley writes about his first hand experience at the border. In visiting migrants who are forced into what are essentially internment camps, where children are separated from their parents, he reveals the hard truth that we, as a country, must face.

As I see it, there are too many politicians these days who are too willing to bury their heads in the sand or to further their careers. I admire Senator Merkley for speaking up and reminding us that, according to his must read book, America is better than this.

I recommend it.

Thoughts On the First Night of the Second Round of Democratic Debates

Last night, the first night of the second round of the Democratic nominees aired on CNN. Over the course of three hours, the nominees debated, argued and did their best to prove why they should go against you know who next fall.

I have a few thoughts about last night.

  • As much as I would like to say that Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) will be our first Jewish-American President, I don’t think he will be the nominee. From my perspective, his plan can best be summed up as a Monet. He didn’t do anything for me during the 2016 Presidential Election and does not do anything for me now. But, he did have the best one-liners.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said nothing new or different than she has said before. This round of debates are do or die for the candidates. While the Senator had many good talking points, nothing she said inspired me.
  • Marianne Williamson surprised me. I didn’t think much of her during the previous debate. But last night, she sounded like a candidate who might have a shot winning the nomination. However, her limited political experience bothers me. Not that there is anything wrong with a political newbie, but given the lack of previous political experience of you know who, I would feel more comfortable with a candidate who has at least some experience in government.
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) stood out. I read her as a centrist Democrat who is able to walk the fine line of holding true to the ideals of the party while appealing to all Americans. I honestly believe that the ideal Democratic candidate to go against you know who is a centrist Democrat whose appeal goes well beyond the party’s base.
  • I don’t agree that immigrants whose status is labelled illegal should just be handed health insurance. Let them pay in, either out of their own pockets or via taxes and enroll in one of the government insurances. I’ve spoken on past posts about my immigrant forebears. They came to this country for the same reasons more than a century ago for the same reason that immigrants are coming today. My forebears did not ask for a handout. They only asked for an opportunity, which what they were given. We should be giving these immigrants the same opportunities that past generations of immigrants were given.

Those are my opinions. Readers, what do you think? What moment or quote stood out to you from last night?

P.S. Did anyone else notice that everyone on stage last night was Caucasian? All of the nominees of color are debating tonight.

It Does Not Say “Tell Them Not To Come” on the Statue of Liberty

For generations, millions of new immigrants passed by the State of Liberty as the United States came into view. Carved into the statue are the words of Emma Lazarus‘s immortal poem, The New Colossus.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It does not say anywhere within the poem, “tell them not to come”.

Those are the words of the man who Americans elected to lead us in 2016.

What are these migrants supposed to do? Stay in a country in which violence, destruction and hunger is the norm? Watch as their children starve or die from gang violence? Just hand over their sons to the gangs to fill their ranks? Give their daughters to the gangs to become sexual playthings?

What would you do if you were in their shoes? Would you just stay or make the dangerous trek to America, hoping that the United States provides the safety and freedom that does not exist in your home country?

Past generations have left their homelands for America for the same reason that these people are leaving for America. It’s time to tell the administration to stop this persecution of Central American immigrants and treat them as human beings.

At the End of the Day, These Migrants Are Human Beings

When we talk about hot button issues, we often forget that there are human beings who are affected by these issues.

Immigration and illegal immigration is one of these issues.

In the United States, the question of immigration and who can become Americans has always been a hot button issue. These days, it has to the point of dividing citizens based on where they stand on immigration.

The point that I keep seeing (that I believe many are missing) is that these migrants are human beings. They may not have entered the country legally, but they are first and foremost human beings. It is their right to ask for asylum and we must, at the very least, hear them out.

When a father and his young daughter drown in the Rio Grande while trying to reach our borders and ask for asylum, I have a problem with that. When detained migrant children are denied access to basics such as toothbrushes and soap, I have a problem with that. When you have kids taking care of kids because they have been separated from their parents, I have a problem with that.

This is not the America that I know and love. This is not the American that respects diversity and our immigrant past. This is hypocritical and flies in the face of everything that we claim to hold dear.

Thoughts On the AOC Holocaust Comparison

The Holocaust is one of the seminal events of recent human history. The persecution, starvation, torture, forced slaved labor and murder of six million European Jews is the hallmark of the inhumanity we often force on our fellow human beings.

Recently, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made some comments in which she compared immigrants held by border control to the victims of the Nazi concentration camp. The response to her comparison has come fast and furious.

As a Jew and an a descendant of Holocaust victims, I think that her comments are on target. While the immigrants in these facilities are not being tortured, starved, forced into slavery or systematically murdered, they are being treated as less than human.

In the eyes of the current administration, they are the other. They are bad, they are evil and they are the cause of our problems. They do not deserve the opportunity to become Americans and add to the wonderful interwoven fabric of our country.

This is what she is saying and unfortunately, many who are responding are not listening.

Thoughts On the Kirstjen Nielsen Resignation

Over the course of a politician’s time in office, a certain amount of turnover, as there is in any job, is normal. In this current Presidential administration, the amount of turnover seems higher than past Presidential administrations.

The most recent resignation came yesterday from DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

It is staggering and mind blowing how much pain and heartache Ms. Nielsen and you know who have caused. 99.9% of those who are coming to our Southern borders are not looking for trouble; they are looking for a better life. Instead of being treated as human beings, they were treated as less than human. As if it is a capital offense to be brown skinned and wanting a better life for themselves and the families.

Today the news reported that it will take 2 years to reunite all of the children who were separated from their parents. From my perspective, this a massive waste of resources. But then again, this current administration is not known for thinking things through.

This is just another reason why you know who is taking the country down a path that I fear we may never get out of.

 

The Path to Genocide Starts With the Label of Inhumanity

The Holocaust did not start with gas chambers, death camps and mass killings. It started with words. It started with calling Jews inhuman, comparing them with rats.

It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that the American immigration policy is in need for an urgent re-write. You know who does not help when he compares deported immigrants to animals:

“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals and we’re taking them out of country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before, and because of the weak laws they come in fast… it’s crazy.”

99.9% of those who are seeking asylum are not criminals. They are escaping a life that is defined by poverty, hunger and violence. They should not be defined by a minority who are motivated by violence.

America, as we all as know, is the land of immigrants. Most Americans can say with some level of certainty that someone in their family was born someplace else and then made their way to America at some point in their lives. We should not be criminalizing these people who are escaping from countries where the basics are hard to come by.

From my perspective, this is just another reason as to why you know who should not be President.

P.S. Is anyone else disturbed that you know who lied about his father’s birthplace? I have to question that if he is lying about where his father was born, what else is he not telling the truth about?

There Is No National Emergency

In spite of America being the land of immigrants, there are many in this country who would prefer to limit who can come through our borders.

You know who is one of them. When he did not get the funding for his border wall by shutting down the government, he threatened to declare a national emergency and bypass Congress.

As of earlier this evening, the threat of using the “national emergency” has become a promise and with the backing of Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the bill to release the funds will be signed.

This “national emergency should be a concern for a number of reasons:

  1. From my perspective, Mitch McConnell is not agreeing to the bill because it is the right thing to do for the country. He is agreeing to it to save his own skin.
  2. The border wall is not only a waste of money and resources, and will not solve the complicated issue that immigration.
  3. The use of  the “national emergency” measure creates a dangerous precedent. It allows future Presidents to declare “national emergencies” for pet issues or projects when Congress says no.

We need comprehensive immigration reform, that is clear. But we must do so in a way that does not waste precious money or resources. This wall is a waste of both.

You Sir, Have Blood On Your Hands

Dear Mr. President,

It is a title I loathe to use, but it is the way I feel that I must address you in this letter.

America is the land of immigrants. Most, if not all of us (yourself included), can trace our family trees back to another country to at some point in history.

Jakelin Caal wanted to come to this country like many of our ancestors did, for opportunities and freedoms that did not exist in her birth country of Guatemala. If your immigration policy were human and moral instead of inhuman and immoral, this girl would be alive. Instead, she is dead and her blood is on your hands.

I completely understand the need for safe borders. We should not be letting into this country anyone who wants to come in. But, at the same time,  if we close the borders or only let in those who fit into our narrow little world, we have thrown away the vision of America that goes against everything that this country stands for.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Citizen

 

 

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