Category Archives: Family

Am I Taking This Personally Or Something?

Yes, I am taking it personally. Trump and his assistant Steve Bannon made it personal almost from the start, when they painted a big target on the back of my youngest son, who happens to be Hispanic, brown and an American citizen, and on the backs of many of my American-citizen neighbors, about 70% of whom also happen to be Hispanic and brown.

Now my boy is 16, and legally driving a car around our little Texas town, sometimes by himself, with a target painted on his back by the Trump Administration. President Trump demonized Hispanic people almost from the minute he began running for president, and renewed his ugly diatribes against them, backed up by ugly ICE actions, almost from the first day of his presidency.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have suddenly been showing up randomly in major cities near the border, such as Houston, in a show of deportation force. In February, an El Paso woman seeking a restraining order against her physically abusive husband was arrested by immigration officials at the courthouse. That wasn’t the only time. In New Mexico, a day after a purposely visible immigration raid, 60% of the students at public Los Cruces’ schools went absent, afraid ICE officers would arrest them or their relatives on school grounds.

Bottom line, because of the current anti-immigrant fervor Trump/Bannon have fomented, Latin American citizens may be detained and hauled off somewhere and then deported, whether or not they are U.S. citizens. If my brown son and four of his white friends were walking past a couple of immigration agents on our street, it’s a safe bet that he would be much more likely to be stopped and questioned about his citizenship than they would.

So yeah, I take this personally.

Just as an aside, several years ago I ran a Houston database applications company employing a number of excellent computer programmers. One of them had an immigration problem. His visa was in order, but his wife’s had expired and she’d been unable to get an extension. It was a constant worry, but at least they didn’t have to be concerned that immigration would pull them over during a random inspection stop.

They were both British and white.

Just as another aside, in case any “nationalists” happen to be reading, Hispanic immigrants aren’t taking your jobs – they are putting roofs on your houses, picking your fruit and vegetables and processing the meat you put on your table. They do the hard, back-breaking, hot, tedious work you have no intention of doing.

And as a final aside, the number of illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S. has declined by more than 1 million since 2007. Illegal immigration from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala has increased, because gang violence and near-failed-state government has forced residents of those countries to flee for their lives and the lives of their children. They are not crossing into the U.S. to engage in crime, they are trying to escape it. Many of them deserve asylum.

But instead of an American beacon of hope on the Statue of Liberty, the “America first” policy being promoted by President Donald Trump, Puppet Master Steve Bannon and Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions would put white Christians first, and everyone else left behind or left outside a walled-in shell of a once-great country.

Also posted in Be Afraid, Government, Law Enforcement, Politics

My Grandfatherization

I traveled to Little Rock, Ark., over the weekend for the special privilege of meeting my first grandchild, a beautiful girl named Eller Elizabeth. Here she is:

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With all of its trials and tribulations, it nonetheless amazes me how good life sometimes can be.

The Way We Were

They hadn’t told us there was no passport photographer in the embassy. We only found out that Monday afternoon, when we tried to get in line there, in order to have our small mountain of adoption paperwork finally approved so that we could bring our new adopted son home to Texas with us.

But no, now we had to search for a passport photographer. Luckily, that didn’t take long because several such photographers were parked in vans in the backstreets around the embassy building. We handed little Nick to one of them, he took three photos and handed the baby back. We waited a few minutes, then walked back to the embassy with our Polaroids.

By that time the long line had grown longer, filled with couples and the babies they were trying to adopt. Several more lined up behind us, too, however, as the clock ticked on toward 5 p.m., we were the last couple to have our papers processed. We were happy and relieved. This long adoption ordeal was coming to a close after all this time, and tomorrow we’d fly back to the United States and baby Nick would see his new home.

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Or so we thought.

We were up early the next morning, packing up, double-checking our plane tickets, ready to grab a cab to the airport. Then the phone rang. My father-in-law from back in Texas. Turn on the TV, he said. And there was the plane, flying in slow motion through one of the World Trade Center towers and into the permanent memory banks of my brain.

Sept. 11, 2001, in Guatemala City. No, we soon learned, there’d be no flight. America was closed.

Also posted in Kids, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be, Travel, War

Anybody Home?

Wow, no one’s been here for weeks and the places is full of cobwebs and stacks of junk mail. Sorry about that. Let me move these papers out of the way, have a seat, I’ll get you something to drink.

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We came through the flood merely inconvenienced – yards and a shed full of mud, the tomato garden and fig harvests pretty well ruined – but it was and remains painful to watch as neighbors up and down the street haul their damaged furniture, carpet, appliances and rotting wallboard out onto the curb. Giant garbage trucks with attached metal grabbers were on patrol for weeks, lifting the roadside refuse and hauling it out.

Our house, and those of about 12 adjoining neighbors, sit high enough on the banks that even this last historic river flood failed to seep into our homes. However, dozens of other housess and trailers suffered damage of varying severity, with some taking on as much as 7 feet of water. Whether the owners can rebuild, and how they go about doing so, is in the hands of city inspectors or, outside city limits, in the hands of Federal Emergency Management Administration officials. You do what you can to help, but recovering from a disaster like this one is beyond individual effort. Great sustained work by volunteer organizations and government agencies all have helped, but I suspect the neighborhood never will be the same.

Long before the flood, we’d scheduled a vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, which provided some welcome relief and perspective. We rented a home for a week, in the mountains outside Asheville, and rested in cool breezes and the hot tub in between trips to the city’s excellent restaurants and arts community and parks and street performers.

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Now I’m back slogging through the Texas steam-heat, rebuilding the gardens here and repairing the watering system at the farm, where parched rodents or rabbits have taken to gnawing holes in my plastic irrigation tubes in search of water.

Soon, very soon, I’ll haul out a few of the Asheville photos for a new gallery, and give the place a good dusting. Thanks for stopping by!

Also posted in Brazos River, Travel