The Dreaded “P” Word

Astrid Silva from

Astrid Silva from

No, not psychopaths — I mean politics.  Yeah, I know it’s a taboo topic in polite company and might rankle some of my readers.  But what are we to do if we can’t have civil conversations about matters of importance?

I can’t say I know a heck of a lot about immigration issues.  I was blessed by being born in the United States, as much as we Americans have done wrong.  I am working toward getting dual Italian-American citizenship simply by virtue of the fact that my grandfather was an Italian citizen who was never naturalized in the United States and signed an alien registration form on the eve of World War II.  I also know a little bit about what it was like to be able to reside legally in the United Kingdom and receive totally free health care under the National Health Service (NHS) solely on the basis of my spousal visa.  Once I submitted my application for a spousal visa, it took less than 2 weeks for it to be processed and approved.

What I do know is my American history.  We of European descent came to the Americas and wiped out whole civilizations of Native Americans.  And if that wasn’t enough, we imported slaves from Africa, and they certainly weren’t “documented,” except as property.  Meanwhile, we meddle in the affairs of other countries and tell them how to conduct their business.  This doesn’t mean we are all “bad.”  Our ideals were enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution, and we may be slow in living up to those ideals, but they are there as a dream and as a goal.

With the Republican legislators doing everything possible to impede immigration reform, and every other thing that Obama proposes, I was looking forward to our president’s speech tonight.  Neil Armstrong didn’t see any national boundaries when he stepped foot on the moon, so why do we?  Why wouldn’t poverty-stricken people from economically devastated and war-torn counties want to come to our golden land for a better life?  Isn’t that what many of our grandparents and great-grandparents and those before them did?

So I was not disappointed in Mr. Obama’s speech to the nation tonight; it made me proud to be American.  He’s issued far fewer executive orders than prior presidents, including George W. Bush.  Any executive order he signs can easily be overturned by the do-nothing Republican Congress.  They don’t want reform; they want to obstruct.  But the most moving part of what Obama had to say was about Astrid Silva.  Her story is now exploding on the web, but here is a short must-read article from the Washington Post:

For immigration activist Astrid Silva, a presidential shout-out


“I didn’t think it was me because everyone was clapping,” said Silva, quaking with emotion after the speech. It wasn’t until a colleague whispered to her, “He said your name,” that she knew Obama was talking about her.

The 26-year-old then started crying on the shoulder of her father, who was standing next to her, watching the speech here at the Hermandad Mexicana Nacional community center.

Silva was born in Mexico and came to the United States with her parents at age 4.

Silva said her father was scammed by someone claiming to be an immigration lawyer who would take care of his paperwork. He didn’t, and her father never realized he had an order of deportation against him until it was served.

Some years ago, I had remodeling work done on my home.  The contractor was your standard white-heterosexual-male, and his workers were all Latino, and undoubtedly “undocumented.”  Under the contractor’s direction, a primer was not put under the main coat of paint that was done inside my house.  At the time of the remodeling, I was also considering having the outside of the house painted, and I had a conversation with one of the Peruvian workers.  I even chatted with him, sharing one of the few works I knew in Spanish — “perro” = “dog.”

The Peruvian worker, again doubtlessly undocumented, told me that he and his friends could paint the outside of my house for a much cheaper price, and not do the shoddy work the contractor demanded to save himself money.  I didn’t have enough savings left to have the work done, but the conversation stuck in my mind.  An honest man willing to do honest work with skilled craftsmanship for minimal pay.  Imagine that!

So I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of immigration, but I do know the current system tears kind and good people from their families and deprives them from the hopes and dreams we’ve enjoyed.  Yes, I’m proud to be American now that our president has kept the promise he was elected on, as much as he is allowed within his executive powers.

If you disagree, that’s your prerogative since Freedom of Speech is also enshrined in our Constitution.  Me, I think we are one step closer to a “more Perfect Union.”  Please don’t stop reading my blog if our opinions differ; I’m sure we can agree on much, and if not, we can learn from each other.  I won’t write on politics too much, but this one I had to do.

We were on the eve of war with Italy in 1940, and my grandfather registered as an alien, citizen of an enemy country.  He wasn’t deported.  If he’d been deported, I wouldn’t be here to write this blog post.

I remember well, the day George W. Bush left the White House in the helicopter at the end of his presidency, and the crowd spontaneously sang, “Na Na Na, Hey, Hey, Goodbye.”  If I haven’t offended you yet, and you need a good laugh, this is a must see:

Important Note:

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Dog Dharma is written by a human who loves dogs and who believes dogs have attained enlightenment. The human behind Dog Dharma came from humble origins, has faced many trials, enjoyed many adventures, and taken a path less traveled. He claims no special privilege or expertise, and remains humble. Dog Dharma‘s author has learned a few things along the way, and has much yet to learn. He has been told by many people that he has a talent for writing, and aspires to write a book, but is a little too lazy and disorganized, so his blog will suffice for now. He opens a window into his life in the hope that some of his words may be of comfort, some may be a beacon or warning, and perhaps he will connect with like-minded souls. Everything shared comes from a place of openness and honesty, but with no claim that he possesses the Truth. People and places mentioned should be taken as pseudonyms. In many cases, details may be an amalgamation of actual events disguised to protect the “innocent.” Nothing written is to be taken as actual fact, but as the author of Dharma Dog‘s limited understanding. From the mouths of the Beatles: In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
This entry was posted in america the beautiful, Astrid Silva, George W Bush, immigration, music, my country tis of thee, na na na hey hey goddbye, National Anthem, Obama, politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Dreaded “P” Word

  1. The real me says:

    I have to agree. Here in the UK we have big issues with immigration. You don’t need to stand in the town centre long before you hear a foreign language. They have their own grocery stores and as time has gone by more and more of the people I deal with in working with the public are non English.

    I don’t know the exact percentages but English are by far a minority in London now and many other places are over run by immigrants.

    People complain of job losses and lack of housing but whilst I do think it has created some problems I don’t by any means believe it is as big a problem to the country as other factors.

    We are aware that European countries can come to our country and claim full benefits as with yourself being entitled to free treatment on the NHS. I think this is a good thing but I do not believe it right that those same people who come here to work, pay their taxes and integrate should be able to claim all the benefits it seems they are.

    To be specific, we have immigrants that come here and claim benefits for relatives, wives and children who are still living in their native country.

    Immigrants that come here with no intention of paying into the counties economy. They just wish to be given a free house and free schooling and medical care whilst not working and that is where problems occur.

    Having said all that there are plenty of English UK citizens that chose not to pull their weight and instead drain the economy. Strangely enough it tends to be those that have the biggest objections to immigration.


  2. DogDharma says:

    real me, this was an emotional post for me because, at heart, I have always thought that all people are good at heart with good intentions, whether they are GLBT or Maori or Icelandic. Now, that view has been amended somewhat after my close and personal encounter with a psychopath. A reportedly small percentage of people are *not* good with good intentions.

    The immigrant experience in the US and the UK are vastly different. We haven’t even celebrated out 300th birthday yet! We’re not a relatively small island, but a country that spans from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Our vision was to be a “melting pot” of welcoming, which we have been, with wave after wave of peoples coming through Ellis Island and other entry points.

    We do not have a good “safety net” for people who have genuine need. For example, we have nothing at all like NHS — the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare — doesn’t even come close. Folks complain about the ones who scam what little miniscule benefits we do have, and there are some who do this. However, the notions folks have about this seem to based more on prejudice than actual fact and first-hand knowledge of statistics. Truth is, we are a wealthy nation, but the wealth is more and more and more concentrated in the hands of a few, and the poor become poorer. Meanwhile, kids can no longer go to college without being saddled with a lifetime of debt, so it seems that the opportunity to lift oneself up is only becoming a faint dream.

    All these various ideas get tossed into the cauldron, and suddenly we are no longer the welcoming “melting pot,” but us vs them — whether it’s based on ethnicity or immigration status or whatever. I have had so, so many friends who worked and paid taxes, but could *not* afford healthcare — and in their 50’s or older. Imagine that in a country with our wealth! If there are roads for automobiles and there are police and firefighters, and these services are a basic right, then surely healthcare for everyone ought to fall into that category. Who wants to get cancer and not be able to afford treatment? That’s why I admire the UK.

    I didn’t know that UK immigrants could claim benefits for relatives who lived back in their home countries was allowed, and that doesn’t seem quite fair to me. From what I learned of the rules of the UK Border Agency, it isn’t onerously hard for immigrants granted leave to remain to have their relatives come to the UK, and then if there was *genuine* need for benefits for those relatives, then they could apply for benefits. I know someone here in the US (an American citizen now) from Liberia, and she works hard at half-decent wages, and sends her *own* money back to her relatives in Liberia.

    Your last sentence though: “Having said all that there are plenty of English UK citizens that chose not to pull their weight and instead drain the economy. Strangely enough it tends to be those that have the biggest objections to immigration.” YES to that one! I know a certain someone and won’t mention names — 🙂 — but the UK could solve all its financial problems if she alone was prevented from scamming the system for benefits while perfectly able-bodied, and yet she did have a blustery and loud objection to immigrants!

    My visa clearly stated “no recourse to public funds,” and I paid my way. In the US, one can get Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) if one is disabled. But ONLY if one has *already* worked and paid taxes long enough to qualify. I worked and paid taxes for many years, and so I qualified. It wasn’t a “hand-out” — it was giving back to me the “insurance” I’d already invested in the system in my years of working. Other people who are genuinely disabled but have not worked and paid taxes long enough into the system do *not* qualify for SSDI. Instead, when they are no longer able to work, their only benefit is what’s called SSI, which might amount to a paltry $500 / month. Well, rent alone in the DC are is ~$1200 / month and upwards, so imagine trying to live on that!

    My SSDI benefit followed me to the UK, which is how I was able to carry my weight, but my health insurance did not. So I was very grateful for the NHS, and that I received help when I found myself in a foreign country with a stroke / Bell’s palsy and had to be hospitalized. She-who-won’t-be-named, British citizen, on the other hand, perfectly able-boded, managed to scam in benefits to the tune of some $70K in US dollars, plus child maintenance, plus council house, plus benefit-sponsored trip to Wales, plus NHS, and so on — much stuff I can’t mention. So yeah, lots of emotions, some conflicting. But I continue to believe that *most* people are good and decent and want to work and to have the opportunity to work and reach for their dreams. I might be naive or idealist, but I’ll hold to my idealism because the alternative paints a dreary world for all of us. National boundaries are man-made, and skin color is only skin deep. We’re in this together, and to the extent that those with “more” can help those with “less,” we all benefit and make a better world.

    Now ya got me on a rant, and I realize many won’t agree, and this should have been a separate post, but by blood heritage, I’m Italian, and I’m passionate, and sometimes I don’t know when to shut up. 🙂


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