Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Letter from Senator Lautenberg (D, NJ)

I think it's rare that I should actually receive a response from Sen. Lautenberg other than "I received your message. Thank you, have a nice day :-)", but I thought I would share this little form letter anyway... It's something I can relate to, and something I care about... 

(Just occurred to me - the word I've been looking for is "undocumented."  They're not "illegal" they're "undocumented"...)

Dear Ms. [you don't need to know that...]:

Thank you for contacting me about comprehensive immigration reform. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

As the son of immigrant parents, I know the United States is often a refuge for those who long for freedom and opportunity. Most immigrants have worked hard to become contributing members of our communities, and the United States has always prided itself as a country that welcomes people seeking better lives for themselves and their families. In the 110th Congress, I voted to advance comprehensive immigration reform legislation; unfortunately, this legislation failed to pass the Senate.

In April, I joined fifteen of my colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama expressing my support for passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year. The letter states that comprehensive immigration reform legislation must improve our border security, help reunite families, modernize our existing immigration programs, and ensure that all workers and business pay their fair share of taxes. Please be assured I will continue to support meaningful comprehensive immigration reform that is practical and fair.

Thank you again for contacting me.


Senator Frank R. Lautenberg
 (image died. grr...)

I also had (& secretly recorded, lol) a talk with my mother a few weeks ago about what it was like to immigrate to the US. (She knows I was asking for my blog, and that I wanted an interview... I don't think she'll mind too much anymore ^^") She said that it was really popular at the time to marry people just for citizenship, and she knew a lot of people who did it. This was 1973. My mom was only 13 at the time, and her parents had taken care of all of the paperwork. It was a lot easier back then. Standards for citizenship weren't as strict... or expensive. She told me about life back home in Guyana (in South America), before she came here. She's from one of the wealthier families in the capital, so she apparently lived in a nice area. Her family owned a lot of land- a plantation (which she still owns a part of today, apparently...) with servants... (She said they were paid well...)  But Guyana was a relatively poor place, owned by Britain until it gained independence in 1966 and became a republic in 1970... And as things happen in a lot of poor formerly British colonies, there was a period of sharp economic decline in the early 70s, violence broke out (likely including a few crazy people from Jonestown & the People's Temple), and it was no longer safe for her to stay there. (Things have declined rapidly since... My mother says things have changed so much there... Ut's basically become like a third world country in some parts. Guyana has the highest suicide rates in ALL of South America...) Both of her parents were already in the US. Her father was a doctor, her mother worked as a nurse. They had been here at least a year or so before my mother joined them, and her siblings followed much later later. Her parents were not citizens when she arrived, but she told me that if they had been, she would have automatically become a citizen-- however, the government changed the laws at that time anyway. "Then I became a citizen before my parents did. My dad never did it, but my mom did, eventually." Her father died just after I was born... I don't know the details, because she doesn't talk about it. I was supposed to visit him in Guyana when I was about 6 months old, but there were complications with baggage (as in, diapers and things had to be shipped there 6 months in advance, so mom went alone...) She sometimes says that she misses Guyana and wants to visit again someday, but she doesn't regret coming here. They came here for the safety, to be with their family, to have a chance at a better life.

If someday I ever leave this country, I would hope my new home would welcome me with open arms, regardless of whether or not ... and not brand me a moocher and a nuisance, as the citizens here have been doing for the past few centuries... (I'm assuming this post will be part of my "what it means to be American" train of thought...) I think it's interesting that Canada requires you to prove your worth before you can apply for citizenship. Kind of sucks, because they look for specific professions and skills (none of which I have. I'm not a brain surgeon or an architect... and I have no desire to try either.) It kind of doesn't leave room for entrepreneurship, but I guess that's more of an American thing (there are tons of government grants and tax credits and things for people who try to start businesses and stuff... Oh, capitalism. How I loathe thee, yet have little choice but to accept thee -- for now. Someday, Corporate America, I swear I will take you down, piece by piece, from the inside out. My father says I have to wait until he retires though... That's like 10-15 years from now! I can't wait that long... I'm still working on that whole patience thing. It's not working out.)

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