Monday, September 25, 2017

I'm about to Facebook delete some people I genuinely like if I hear any more deliberately ignorant anti-immigrant sentiment.  (I know that nobody is losing sleep or gnashing their teeth over this, but I hate deleting people because I hate to give up on them.)  There is plenty of accurate info out there for anyone who isn't intellectually lazy.  It takes less than five minutes to find information about the myths surrounding immigration but some people just can't be troubled with those pesky facts.  And deliberate ignorance is my biggest pet peeve.  So if you are bothered by people who look and speak different from you, please read the following.  If you still don’t understand that immigrants are humans, and just as important as you are, it will be my pleasure to not have to see the hateful drivel you post any longer.

Oh, YOUR ancestors came here "legally?" Well if it was before 1929, that wasn't hard to do.  No papers required.  Quit acting superior.  As for the children of immigrants who were born on American soil, THEY ARE CITIZENS, just as much as you are.  The same people who whine and cry about the Second Amendment don’t seem very educated on the rest of the U.S. Constitution.  You see, the Fourteenth Amendment grants citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil.  So when your great grandpappy came over from Germany, and your granddad was born here, he was a first-generation American in his family.  Today, granddad’s older brother who was brought here at age two would be called a Dreamer and in danger of being deported.  Not the fault of the immigrants.  It’s faulty immigration law.

Could they be “patient” and “do it the right way?”  That’s one I hear a lot.  If you are under-educated and poor, but willing to work hard, there aren’t a lot of options to migrate here.  Yet that is a description of many of our ancestors, who came here with very little except a desire to change their lives and contribute.  It can literally take decades to immigrate here legally, thanks again to those prohibitive immigration laws put in place in 1929…ironically, by the descendants of immigrants.

Research the actual crime rates in immigrant populations, and how they are way lower than non-immigrant crime rates. They are less likely to commit crimes than the general population, even misdemeanors.  Studies reveal that in areas with higher immigration, crime decreases, particularly violent crime.  But don’t take my word for it.  Look at FBI statistics and look at studies by a variety of neutral agencies and entities.  Again, Google is your friend.

“But what about border security??”  The key is immigration reform.  We need workers, skilled and unskilled.  Reform would give citizenship opportunities to people who are here to work and contribute to the economy.  If our border agents are able to stop arresting people who are just coming here to work and/or be with their families, they would be freed up to address the real problems: drugs, terrorists, gun runners, human traffickers, and other dangerous criminals.  What purpose is being served by using tax dollars to fund detention centers full of families with little kids?  And WHY in God’s name are we locking up people who could be working and improving our communities? Most importantly, the conditions in the centers are deplorable.  Why is our government committing this human rights abuse?

Learn about the massive amounts immigrants contribute to the economy in social security taxes which they can't later access (to the tune of 13 BILLION dollars into the Social Security Trust Fund in 2010 alone).  They pay sales taxes, property taxes, and payroll taxes.  Take the time to learn how grueling the work is that so many of them do to support their families.  Are you willing to spend 12 hour days in sweltering heat bent over lifting things with very limited access to a restroom and clean drinking water?  If so, how much would you expect to be paid?  Would you be willing to work this job with NO benefits?  If not, quit the whining about immigrants “taking our jobs.”  You sound spoiled and ridiculous.  They aren’t lazy.  They are earning their way.

They also aren't getting a “bunch of freebies.” Other than emergency medical and required school attendance for kids in public school, they aren’t eligible for ANY public assistance programs in any state.  The only exception is a brand new rule in Oregon that allows immigrant children to have medical coverage so they can have immunizations, antibiotics for ear infections etc.  You know the same thing all other kids have and ALL CHILDREN SHOULD HAVE!   Many of them are terrified to seek medical care, appear in court for traffic tickets, or seek help for domestic violence for fear of being deported.  Imagine for a moment living like that, while you strut around with your unearned privilege.  This is true in my own town, based on meetings I have attended with local healthcare providers, legislators, and other social service professionals.  

Anchor babies.  That’s a popular term these days.  It’s based on the theory that people come here and deliberately have babies so that they can stay.  Another myth.  Yes, as stated earlier, any child born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen.  You shouldn't have a problem with that, as it's written into that Constitution you like to rant about.  However, any parent of such a child will not benefit from this until the child reaches the age of 21.  They can still be deported at any time.  There have been raids where immigrant children have come home from school to an empty house because both of their parents were taken away.  With no criminal record other than the “crime” of trying to live in a safe place with their family.  After the child reaches age 21, the parents still face a lengthy and complicated process to become “legal” which can take an additional 7-14 years.  So referring to American citizens as “anchor babies” is another ignorant, hateful way to spread misinformation.

Let’s talk for a moment about those DREAMers, the kids who were brought here as children.  Many of them have no connections to, or much memory of, the place they were born. Some don’t even speak the language.  We are surrounded by these DREAMers.  They are EMTs, firefighters, military, educators, business owners, and all sorts of other things.  They are America at its best.  Why in the world would we want to deport them?  Here is a list of requirements in order to be considered DACA eligible:
1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
2. Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Note: DREAMers must also be 15 years to apply. Younger people can apply once they turn 15 —  if the program is still in place.

Again, WHY would we deport someone such as this?  Now that the current administration is trying to overturn DACA, our government has all the names and addresses of the children and their parents, who in good faith applied to try to do things the right way.  These kids didn’t have a choice.  I know a local young woman who saved for a long time to get the nearly $500 it cost to register.  She’s a star student and has a bright future.  Unless ICE shows up at her door and deports her family back to an unfamiliar place.  Is this what “American values” looks like now?  And what do we gain from deporting families who have taught their children the value of working and studying hard, and being good citizens?

The vast majority of people who come here are here for the same reasons your grandparents came here.  Some of them, particularly the Irish and Chinese ones, weren't very well treated either, but can't we learn from the past and do better?  Read about the myths that were spread about Chinese and Irish immigrants back in the day.  They will sound very familiar. And if you have it in your heart to have any compassion whatsoever, learn about the circumstances that cause families to leave everything behind and risk their lives to immigrate.  I wonder if YOU would be here if your ancestors faced the current immigration system.

Here’s a cool idea: learn Spanish.  Oh, is it too difficult?  Well it's statistically a lot easier to learn than English but immigrants are supposed to pick that up immediately, according to some people.  If you aren't fluently bilingual, you have no business complaining about anyone else.  If pressing a number 1 on a phone call to hear English is the biggest thing you have to complain about, please get a life!  Are you truly that entitled and lazy?  We are a nation of immigrants, most of whom managed to learn the language, and some who didn’t.  We all have that ancestor who never learned English, who came over from the “old country,” and I bet you aren’t ashamed of yours or think they should have been deported.  That’s okay.  The point is, we’re all human.  Those immigrants working the fields for 12 hour days and caring for their children probably don’t have a lot of study time on their hands either.

If you refer to yourself as a Christian, here’s a hot tip: read the red letters in your Bible, then go research that.  Here’s some other research for you: 

Leviticus 19:33-34

Matthew 25:35

Deuteronomy 27:19

Hebrews 13:2

Zechariah 7:9-10

Ezekiel 47:22

Jeremiah 7:5-7

Don’t use your “good book” as an excuse to be a bad person.

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 by Romy Carver

1 comment

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Today, January 21, 2017, is the historic Women's March, which started in Washington, D.C. and has spread across this nation and even to other countries.

In our tiny rural community over 200 people showed up for today's march.  Quite mind-blowing in a county in which Trump got more votes. 

We started the event with some music, and then some speakers.  I was honored to be asked to speak.  Then we marched through town.  It was a fantastic event, and I was especially delighted to meet many other local people who share my values of equality, justice, and fairness.  A few childish people drove by and flipped us off, but the overwhelming majority of people were honking and cheering as they drove by. 

Our PA system wasn't working, and some people had asked for my speech because there were so many people that it was hard to hear.  I am posting it here.  I also want to add that there are two newly formed human dignity groups in our county.  In South County, Progressive Action Tillamook has formed and has a Facebook page; they also organized the event.  In North County, there is the newly formed Oregon Coast Love Coalition, which I believe also has a Facebook page.  In Central County, Tillamook for Love, which is about two and a half years old, also has a Facebook page.  I would encourage anyone who believes in freedom, justice, and peace to align with one or more of these groups, and we will work together.

Anyway, the speech:

Hello everyone, I just want to say that I stopped on the way here at Freddy’s to grab some poster board and a marker and the foam boards and all the stiff boards for posters were COMPLETELY sold out!  Then I get here and turn the corner, and WOW!  What a fantastic turnout!  This is great!  Anyway, I’m Romy and I worked for seven years in the field of domestic and sexual violence prevention. I am here as a mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, and concerned citizen.  And I brought my granddaughter because she’s a concerned citizen too.

I want to talk for a moment about domestic and sexual violence, and the role that silence plays in perpetuating violence.  One thing I learned at the center was that abusers depend on the silence of their victims and people around them.  If their victim is too afraid to talk, if their voice is silenced, the abuser can continue to hurt them and others with impunity.  In my work at the center, I taught junior high and high school kids that silence is complicity, and I taught them about bystander intervention.  They learned how to not be silent in the face of bullying and other forms of violence. 

I see strong parallels between the behaviors of batterers and the behaviors of our current administration.  Yesterday, America entered a very unhealthy relationship and we love her and we’re concerned.  We as Americans hold certain values, like equality and human dignity, very dear and they are under threat.

Already, the new administration has vowed to cut funding to the Violence Against Women Act, which funds life-saving services to people experiencing domestic and sexual violence.  We CANNOT be silent.  They are already defunding Planned Parenthood in some states, which will surely lead to a rise in sexually transmitted illnesses and unwanted pregnancies as women lose access to critical health services.  Donald Trump has an admitted track record of sexually assaulting women and shows no remorse for his actions.  He demeans immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, Muslims, poor people, overweight people, veterans, really anyone who isn’t him.  I’ll be blunt; he is an abuser.  He has already removed pages from the White House website that are supportive of our LGBT community and disabled workers.  But he seems to save his strongest hatred for women, whom he refers to as dogs and pigs.  This is not acceptable behavior for anyone, much less a commander in chief.

When we see someone being abused, we have a moral obligation to support that person and try to stop the abuse.  Silence is not an option. Taking a stand in a small town means taking risks, like you are right now by being here!  It may result in people not looking you in the eye in the grocery store anymore, or talking behind your back.  The good news is, you’re in a small town so they already are!  Give them something to talk about!  Step up, speak out, don’t be silenced!  Some people escalate the abuse when someone speaks up.  They may roll their eyes, or call you a snowflake, or tell you to “get over it.”  They may even threaten you.  They are trying to silence you.  That’s what abusers do.  Don’t let them do that.  There are many ways to speak out.  Even refusing to laugh at jokes that are racist, sexist, or hateful to any group is a great start.  That’s actually a great time for cold, stony silence.

Donald Trump may be the face of the problem, but he isn’t THE problem.  He is a demagogue, but he has had plenty of backing, and they are all counting on our silence so they can continue to batter this planet and everyone on it. 

I’m going to read a quote that I found very impactful, by Naomi Shulman:

“Nice people made the best Nazis.  My mom grew up next to them.  They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than ‘politics.’  They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.  You know who weren’t nice people?  Resisters.”

Be a resister!  You don’t owe anyone an explanation, you never need to justify taking a stand.  And when you go home today, don’t just put your coat away and say, “well, I did my part.”  I know you won’t, and we can’t afford that.  We need you!  We can’t let this current administration normalize hate.  We need to normalize activism.  We have some powerful people standing here, people who really love this community and our country, and want to make it the best place in the world to live.  We are the ones who can make a difference.  We don’t have time for fear.  We need to stick together, get to know each other, and strategize.  I look forward to working with each of you, and changing the world together.  Thank you.

Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2017 by Romy Carver