A recent mass shooting occurs so regularly that a student recently stated she wasn’t even surprised when it happened at her school. It does seem to be happening too often. One reporter discovered that this year more students had been killed in our schools than soldiers killed in our military. More high school students continue joining Parkland School shooting survivors in organizing more marches, across the country registering students to vote and calling on stricter gun rules. In fact these same Parkland School survivors formed a chorus that performed at the 72nd Tony Awards, bringing an enthusiastic audience to their feet.
The most sensible gun owner rules I have seen were recently reported by Carol Turnbull in a letter to our St. Paul paper. Quoting her reference to Norwegian gun laws, she states, “A license is needed to own a gun and many categories of weapons are banned. Guns are seen in shooting clubs or during hunting season; otherwise, they must be stored and locked up. Police have the right to inspect a gun owner’s home to see that the law is being followed. And most police there still don’t carry weapons.”
In the meantime, members of both the House and Senate continued to favor a bill to create permanent legal status for young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children such as Janelle. Backers had until June 9 to gain support to force votes by the end of next month. And so it goes . . . on and on . . . endlessly.
“Tell me about your life in Trinidad,” I asked her one day as she handed me a hot cup of tea. Staring in space for a moment as she blew on her tea to cool it off, she slowly said mostly all she remembered was constant fighting between her parents and abuse of her and her brother. “Was there no relief?” I asked. “My parents finally split and Mom acquired a boyfriend who was very abusive, beating her frequently with wire hangers for minor reasons.” Looking me straight in the eyes, holding herself erect, she said his abusiveness towards her mother resulted in her finally giving Janelle and her sister to her mom and they all came to America to live with a friend.
Janelle continues to find ways of making some kind of life for herself — by herself — and with friends – during a summer of low unemployment with few jobs available, many on vacation. As hopeless as it often seems, she still, for the most part, refuses to dwell on negatives, keeping herself looking prosperous and confident. I don’t know how she does it, looking like the model in her photos on her I Phone. On her free time, she yells in joy at the successes of her great tennis idol, Serena William during the Paris Open and angers when Serena drops out, fearing defeat in the finals.
For weeks, the party’s two wings have hunted ways to provide a route to citizenship for “Dreamer” immigrants and also bolster border security but have failed to find middle ground. Trump last year terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants have benefited from DACA like Janelle, and moderates want legislation that would give them a way to become legal residents and ultimately citizenship. Recently talks have focused on proposals that give the Dreamers a way to gain legal status. They’ve discussed making them eligible for visas now distributed under existing programs that would be curtailed such as limiting the relatives immigrants can bring to the U.S., also ending a lottery that provides visas to people from countries with low immigration rates.
The new controversy emerging at Texas borders is the Asylum parents’ children being taken away from them while they are filling out entrance forms. As the general public becomes more aware of the increasingly huge number of children being snatched from their parents, sent to unknown places, this will become relentless headline news. I suspect this may become an even greater scandal for our fearless leader than all he has so far acknowledged.
Coming to America had always been a dream for Janelle. Her eyes lit up like a night sky full of dazzling stars fighting for dominance as she said, “I pictured the streets paved in gold with babies hanging from the ceiling.” “Was it what you expected?” I asked. “No, not al all. When mother brought me, we lived in The Projects in Brooklyn, NY where my Mom and I shared a room. She was illegal in the country so she had to work under the table for what little she could get to support us. Even so, it was better than my grandmother’s little wooden house where she, my sister and I all shared one room. We didn’t even have a toilet — just an outhouse. Termites were a big problem in Trinidad.” Waving her arms wildly from side to side, she exclaimed, “They destroyed floors, walls and furniture. There were holes in the floor which my grandfather would nail a piece of plywood over, each time a new hole was formed. After years of water damage and rusting, holes were formed in the roof, so each time it rained, we would have to grab buckets to collect the water to protect the floors!”
Janelle moves quickly and quietly through my home as she checks her I Phone for employment leads in the twin cities and NYC and has received help in updating a resume of her work in varied settings. Mindful that she has no place to store what money she has to keep it safe or accrue interest because she has no social security number, she worries that the money she left in a safe place in NYC is still safe. In fact, she fears checking sources to find out for fear it has been plundered. She has trusted too many people who seemed honest and reliable. It is difficult to imagine how one could accrue wealth or a sense of security without secure banking services. I tell her she is welcomed to stay here as long as she wishes. She helps keep me ‘young’.
Stay tuned for continued adventures of ‘a Dreamer’.