Tag Archives: illegal immigrants

In the Country We Love: My Family Book Review

The question of immigration has existed since the founding of the United States in the late 1800’s. These days, it has become an issue that is dividing the country. But underneath the issue are thousands, if not millions of individual stories that need to be heard and seen. Diane Guerrero‘s story is one of them.

Best known for her role in Orange Is The New Black, Ms. Guerrero is the American born daughter of Colombian immigrants who were deported back to the country of their birth when their daughter was a teenager. Her life story is detailed in the new memoir In the Country We Love: My Family. Born in the mid 1980’s to Colombian immigrants who cam to America on a visa and tried to gain citizenship up until the time that they were deported, Ms. Guerrero understood from a very young age about her parents immigration status. After her parents were deported, she survived as best she could, but the loss of her parents took a toll on her that took years to deal with. It was only with professional help and revisiting her love of performing that put the spark back in her life.

This book is amazing and a must read, regardless of where the readers stands on the immigration debate. Not only is is easy to read, but it puts the humanity and a face on a subject is often hard to humanize.

I recommend it.

 

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Immigration Is Not A Black And White Issue: Thoughts On The Accused Killer Of Mollie Tibbetts And The Deportation Of Jakiw Palij

The myth about America pertains to the thorny issue of immigration. While Emma Lazarus‘s immortal poem, The New Colossus has greeted new American immigrants along with The Statue Of Liberty for generations, the immigrant experience has never been an easy one.

In 2018, the complications have become magnified, thanks to you know who.

Last month, college student Mollie Tibbetts went missing. This week, her body was found. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who authorities have identified as an illegal immigrant originally from Mexico was accused of her murder.

My heart breaks for those who knew her and loved her. May her memory be a blessing.

It didn’t take long for certain political factions in this country to use this girl’s murder as a reason to paint all illegal immigrants with broad brush. Most, if not all immigrants, regardless of their status, did not come to America to become criminals. They came to this country for the freedoms and opportunities that for many immigrants are not available in the countries of their birth.

This case also bring to light two scourges on our global cultural landscape: sexism and racism. Some of the news reports stated that Mr. Rivera approached Miss Tibbetts.  When she rebuffed him, he didn’t understand that no means no. Racism comes into the picture because this case amplifies the myth that all men of color are predators when it comes to white women. Therefore, white woman need to be protected by white men from the men of color who might have less than honorable or harmless intentions.

The other news story that  brings into light the shades of grey when it comes to immigration is the case of Jakiw Palij.

In 1949, he came to America, claiming to be a farmhand and factory worker. Since then, he has lived in Queens, New York. According to news reports, Mr. Palij was actually a Nazi labor camp guard at Trawniki concentration camp and lied on his immigration paperwork. He is being deported back to Germany.

While I understand that he is 95 years old, justice must be served. From my perspective, when an immigrant is deported, the government must have a solid reason to send him or her back to their country of origin. In this case, I cannot disagree with his deportation. While it would be impossible in 2018 to prosecute every member of the Nazi party who stood by while their Jewish friends and neighbors were being murdered, the prosecution of Mr. Palij must proceed. The message must be heard loudly and clearly: those who had a hand in murdering Jews and other minorities during World War II will be judged and prosecuted for their actions.

Despite the promise of America, immigration will never be a black and white issue. It is my opinion that unfortunately, it’s taken Americans over 200 years to realize that fact.

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The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life Book Review

Unless one is living under a rock these days, it’s hard to ignore the fact that immigration is a hot button issue these days. The problem with the debate is that there are nuances and real human beings behind the debate that are more often than not, overlooked.

Last year, journalist Lauren Markham published her new non fiction book, The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life.

Born in El Salvador, Ernesto and Raul Flores were growing up in the midst of their homeland’s civil war. At the age of seventeen, as gang violence mounted, the boys knew that they had no choice. They had to leave their home and family for the United States. Surviving the treacherous journey to America, Ernesto and Raul face new challenges. In addition to the growing pains that every teenager deals with, the boys must deal with immigration courts, adapting to a new life in America and living with an older brother whom they had not seen for a number of years.

I was blown away by this book. It read more like a fiction novel than a true story. Above all, what I loved about this book was that it put a human face and a human story on a subject that many in this country do not see eye to eye to.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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When Did Our Immigration Policy And Those Who Enforce It Lose Their Humanity? Part 2

Imagine the following scenario if you will: Pablo Villavicencio is 35. He is a loving and hardworking husband and father who earns his living delivering pizzas for a Queens pizza parlor. Earlier this week, Mr. Villavicencio was doing his job, delivering a meal to Fort Hamilton army base in Brooklyn. Instead of just making the delivery and moving onto his next stop, he was arrested and could be forced to return to his native Ecuador because he is not a legal immigrant.

If he is deported, there a possibility Mr. Villavicencio  that he may not see his wife and young daughters, all who are citizens, for quite a few years.

It’s obvious to me that in an attempt to protect America’s borders and her citizens, our government is going too far. I fail to see how putting this man in jail and potentially sending him back to Ecuador is making our country safe. If anything, it sends the message that the borders to America, the land made up of immigrants and their descendants, are closed. Especially to immigrants of color.

If nothing else, my heart aches for Mr. Villavicencio’s young daughters, who may have to grow up without their father.

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When Did Our Immigration Policy And Those Who Enforce It Lose Their Humanity?

America is a country of immigrants. Unless one is Native America, we can all trace our familial origins to one or more persons who left their countries of origin for a new life in the United States.

It’s no secret that the current administration’s immigration policy is not exactly open to immigrants, especially those of color.

According to Steven Wagner, the Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, nearly 1500 immigrant children who tried to enter the US illegally are missing.  Mr. Wagner claims that his department is not responsible for the children once they are placed in sponsor homes.

In addition, families who cross together are being separated from one another.

I am the descendant of immigrants. I am appalled by the actions taken by those in Washington. While I am all for securing our borders and preventing terrorism, these actions are not disgusting, but inhumane.

At best, these kids could be living on the street or getting into trouble with the law. At worst, these kids could fall into the hands of human traffickers. I shudder to think what should happen if they do find themselves entangled with human traffickers.

This is not the America that I know and love. While following the law of the land is important, so is compassion, humanity and understanding. From where I am standing, things need to change, otherwise the America that our Founding Fathers envisioned will be nothing but a mirage.

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Thoughts On John Kelly’s Immigration Comments

America is supposed to be the land of opportunity. Anyone, regardless of background, can make something of themselves.

America is also the land of immigrants. Most Americans can trace their family history to at least one person who left their homeland and settled in America.

Earlier this week, General John Kelly, the current White House Chief of Staff, made the following comment in regards to illegal immigrants:

“They are not bad people … but they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States,” he continued. “They’re overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English, obviously that’s a big thing,” Kelly said. “They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but this comment make my blood boil.

The reason people immigrate to America is for opportunities that are not available in the countries they call home. If they had the educational and professional opportunities in their home countries, they wouldn’t leave.

My family originally hailed from Eastern Europe. They were Jews, crippled by both discrimination and the opportunities that were out of reach because they were poor. They came to America over a century ago and like many immigrants of that era, integrated into America. They learned English, received an education and thrived.

His comments are racist is every sense of the word. But, considering who Kelly’s boss is, I am not surprised about the comment.

What we need in this country is to come together. We will never come together if we let this divisive rhetoric tear us apart.

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Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card Book Review

Illegal immigration is a hot button topic in America these days. The problem, as I see it, is that while we argue over the big picture, we forget the nuances and the individuals (whose stories often differ) who came to America, albeit illegally, looking for a better life for themselves and their families.

Sara Saedi is one of these individuals. Born in Tehran, Iran during the Islamic Revolution, Sara came to America as a toddler with her family. She was raised as a normal American kid, but there was one thing that separated her from her peers: she was an illegal immigrant.

In her new memoir, Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card, Sara writes about living a dual life. She was an ordinary American kid doing the things that any ordinary American kid does. But she was also an illegal immigrant whose status was secretive and sometimes questionable at best.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because the author writes in such a manner that the memoir is enticing. Her writing is down to earth and normal. I found myself thinking in some sections that she sounded like a normal young girl, regardless of her immigration status. But, ultimately, what kept me reading was the idea that when it comes to immigration, especially those who come here by bypassing the legal modes of immigration. While border safety and the safety of everyday Americans is of utmost importance, we  must also take a hard look at our immigration policies and determine if we are going against American tradition by keeping out people who simply want a piece of the American dream.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Day After Night Book Review

There is an old saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn”.

Anita Diament’s 2010 novel, Day After Night  is about four young women who survived the Holocaust and how they find the light after the darkness.

In October of 1945, the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust are trying to make their way to what was then British controlled Palestine.  Many are interned in Atlit Internment Camp, a prison for “illegal immigrants” off the coast of Haifa. There are four main characters: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist, Leonie, who is ashamed of her choices during the war, Tedi, a Dutch Jew who was fortunate to find hiding and Zorah, who lived through the concentration camps.

Haunted by the past and afraid to hope, the women forge a friendship while they try to rebuild their lives in a strange new country that they are ready to call home.

I love this book. While the story and characters are set in a specific time and place, it speaks to all of us. We all have dark times in our life, but there is day after night.  We just have to have hope and faith.

I recommend this book.

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