Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ask her

In 1959, a mother of four was living in post-war Berlin, Germany.  Her older children had moved across the planet - two to Canada and one to the United States, taking her first grandchildren with them.

This woman - brave, strong, broke and with a young daughter - found a way to get herself and her child to the United States.  That journey itself has never been discussed much, beyond the fact that the nine year old daughter was both fascinated and afraid of the small rickety prop plane that brought her here.

This woman and her daughter came to the United States legally, with sacrifice and scrapped together money.  Some treasured family heirlooms were sold, had to be, in order to get the two of them to their new home.

The woman knew some English, the daughter none at all.  The woman set up a tailoring shop and found a little apartment for herself and her daughter.  The daughter started to learn English from watching television.  Once school started the little girl took her brave little non-English speaking self to school and LEARNED.  She learned English, and beyond that, developed a keenly Chicago accent.

The woman worked hard, and so did the little girl.  The little girl grew up, learned slang and curse words, and learned and learned and learned.  She learned her way all the way to a degree from Northwestern University.

The woman grew older, as did the little girl, who had two little girls of her own.  She taught them to love learning, to appreciate living this life in this country, even though she remained a German citizen.  Eventually, the woman passed away, and the little girl started teaching her daughters about some of their German history.

The little girl now grown woman is only recently considering becoming a US citizen. She can take her time with this, because when she was nine, her mother did all of the things legally and properly.  She is a Bears fan, a community leader, and one of the most Chicago-y people.

The mother of four? My Oma.  The nine year old immigrant? My Mother.  You want to talk about immigration reform, and deals for people who came here illegally?  TALK TO HER.


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Well, I disagree.

I mean, good on your folks for doing things the legal way, and everything.

But I think the laws are stupid.

K.Becker said...

Tell her don't give up her citizenship (!!).

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Other than that, great story though.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It's a great story about your family, Von.

But I must agree with zrm, the immigration debate is mainly "rube bait".

In other words, just another part of the right's demonization of the "other" in this country, in the pursuit of more power and wealth for the wealthy and powerful.

mikey said...

This raises once again a fascinating question. Immigration laws have changed radically and repeatedly over the years. Many people who are here "illegally" have come here in a desperate attempt to make their families lives better, and there was no realistic "legal" option. And yet they are here, and they are for the most part very good people who contribute to both American society and the American economy.

And as your story so eloquently points out, immigration is very good for us all...+

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

But I must agree with zrm,

Who are you and what did you do with thunderpants?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Shame about the thing with the Bears though.

fish said...

Laws and their enforcement radically change depending on the hue of your skin. And I agree with mikey that the real take home message is how great immigration was and is for the US. One of our last remaining strengths is our amazing diversity.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

And I agree with mikey

That's the best approach. Disagreeing with him just encourages him.

Jennifer said...

That's a great story Von. We all got here by way of someone deciding they needed something better. Ideally people can do it legally, but... I have to say, if my family is living in a shit situation, I'm going to do whatever I can to get them to a better place.

Lord knows this better place has also often taken advantage of the labor of those people.

My gawd... all this agreeing with mikey, agreeing with thundra... ZRM agreeing with anyone... people disagreeing with Von... before you know it, cats and dogs will be living together and feeling no shame. It's a new world!

You know what I feel the need to do?? I feel the need to quote Paul McCartney... Let 'em in.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

before you know it, cats and dogs will be living together and feeling no shame. It's a new world!
Uh-oh. Too late!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

It's a new world!

It's even A New World Record.

Jennifer said...

Of course, ideally, the world would change in ways where people could thrive where they are, and would not feel the need to escape, risking life and limb and all they hold dear.

blue girl said...

Of course, ideally, the world would change in ways where people could thrive where they are, and would not feel the need to escape, risking life and limb and all they hold dear.


Von said...

I am completely ok with people disagreeing with me. I expected it, even.
Pretty much we'll agree to disagree, m'kay?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Jon Langford is an illegal immigrant.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I am betting MY family has questionable immigration records. You know, old scofflaw German drunks. Moved to Wisconsin to evade legal restrictions for public drunkenness. Joining the Army to conceal their un-american attitudes. Illegal Zombizzles. We'll cut you as soon as look at you.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

That's a great story, Von.

Personally, I think the immigration debate in this country is messed up because it focuses on desperate Mexicans, and not on the people who employ people here illegally so they don't have to pay decent wages. This story tells you everything you need to know about the illegal immigration issue in politics.

The real problem is that NAFTA was passed and a lot of jobs and cheap, subsidized American corn went south to Mexico, so lots of farmers couldn't make it and took factory jobs. Then the bosses decided they could pay Chinese workers even less, so the factory workers lost their jobs. It was a perfect storm which really messed things up for poor Mexicans. When they decided to go north, American bosses were all too happy to hire them for dirt wages.

Go after the illegal employers, stop free trade, give the Mexicans a shot at making it in their own country, and the problem will eventually be solved.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Pretty much we'll agree to disagree, m'kay?

I didn't agree to that.

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