One day my husband left early in the morning to check into immigration, as he does every six months, we have had this routine for years. I asked him the night before if he was nervous and he replied, “Yes, every time. It’s a bad place Basante.” I know that since Trump has taken office they now separate people into groups, Hispanics on one side and Asians on another. Just like cattle, brown cows on one side and spotted on the other. That was the first foreshadowing of things to come.
This time Bali didn’t come back.
I had taken the kids to the park after chocolate croissants at Starbucks from my points earned coffee card, we were feeling fancy. We met so many fun people that day. Had a great time at the library picking out dinosaur books. We were on tour. Finally, we got home and Bali wasn’t back yet. I knew this wasn’t good and then I heard his teary message saying they had taken him in and were deporting him this time.
My husband is no criminal, he doesn’t do drugs, he works very hard building a little business down the street that used to be run down but he brought back to life with soap and wine barrels of geraniums, not to mention great customer service and coffee. He is a model citizen, helping neighbors lift heavy things and walking old ladies across the street. Things like that. He’s kind and generous. He’s a great father and devoted husband.
That day he was allowed one more call and it was painful. He was scared and distraught. I had to travel to Sacramento to get his car. I’ve made enough friends with the neighbors here that I had one of them go with me and the children but I was so stressed that I forgot to get the extra car keys. I found the immigration office and the officer let me see Bali and have the keys. They treated him like a criminal and, for all my husband’s big body and look of strength, he is a child inside. He cried, they bossed him about, I became irate and almost received a time out myself.
The next day he was taken to a jail far away, unfortunately, as it’s not easy dragging children around. Now, I’ve never had the experience of having someone I know in the clinker so I’m not real smart with the prison system. In the movies you get collect calls from the jail house, in real life you have to set up a prepaid account and it seems simple but it’s not. There are two kinds you can get and if the prisoner doesn’t know which one you purchased then you can’t connect. I have been buying the wrong prepaid accounts and not being able to connect when Bali calls. It sucks. It is very hard to connect once they put someone away in the jail.
I have some incredible friends that have been calling lawyers and congressman since this happened and even met with our old lawyer yesterday in San Francisco. These are things I could not have done alone with the kids. I could have but it would have been so incredibly stressful and San Francisco is far. I have been sitting in my little handmade office in the laundry room scanning and sending birth certificates, proof of property ownership, marriage license, and trying to get a therapist to see me. I can’t just write a letter telling the “system” that this is not good for me and the boys, I have to have a person with a fancy degree hear me ramble on and then write it up in a letter. This is really a dumb thing. I could save $200 and tell the judge exactly how I feel!
I don’t know if we will get him out or if Bali will have to go back to India. If he does go back it will be a lot of time, months or years, and lots of money I won’t have. They make it impossible for poor people to have any chance at getting their families back together.
I’m all for criminals, drug dealers, and trouble makers to be sent back. We have enough of our own folks causing problems and we don’t need anyone else visiting and making things messier. However, the immigrants they are rounding up today are hard working, God loving, family men and women. I just wonder who is going to pick all that fruit and produce when harvest time comes or who will be washing dishes in the back of the restaurant or cleaning hotel rooms, tending to other peoples babies and cleaning their homes?
Trump is introducing a points system that is popular in Canada and Australia. If you speak English, have a degree, and some Nobel prize or Olympic award (I had to read this twice)…you’re in! I am all for immigrants learning English, believe me. But a degree and some special awards? He wants to keep the lower paying jobs for the Americans. Hmmm. Interesting. So, it’s ok to give away all our high paying jobs to a foreigner but let’s keep the not so great, hard, minimum wage jobs for the American people? Dear Mr. President, this will not make America great and, FYI, Americans will not work those jobs and that’s why we have been fortunate enough to have immigrants here to take up the slack. Not many people will go out in a Pear orchard and pick a thousand pounds of pears in hundred degree weather all morning.
What’s the solution? A pathway to a green card and citizenship. A foreigner should learn the language and contribute and become a positive part of the community. They should invest in this country that they say they want to be a part of. The President wants foreigners that invest millions. Maybe we should just think house? Small business? I don’t know.
All I know is that I have lived in the world of the immigrant and I have been dealing with immigration for 6 years and I’m tired and sad. They are scooping up the good with the bad in their nets just like the destruction that takes place with net fishing. The inedible fish and precious coral get swooped up with the wanted fish. Habitats are destroyed with these nets.
Now ICE is scooping up the criminals, the fathers, the hard workers, the drug dealers. They are all being thrown out despite the fact some are actually a benefit in our communities and are taking care of families. Some children are even being put in foster care because their parents may be immigrants but they are not so the parents are sent off and the children stay here. This is beyond painful. How is this solving an issue?
Fortunately, my sons have a godmother who is like the Godfather. She is a force to be reckoned with and all the things an Italian woman (any woman) should be…powerful, passionate, a little crazy, just enough that if she loves you and you’re family, not even the government has a fighting chance if locked in a cage with her. She and her companion are calling newspapers, congressman, and attorney’s, I’ve had orders already this morning to write a press release. So, I write like mad, answer when the jail calls, run around putting money in this account and that account while my new roommate makes eggs for my boys and acts as a substitute grannie that we so desperately need right now.
I took a shower with Bali’s toothbrush this morning. I hung his work clothes on the outdoor line. His flip flops are by the stairs waiting for him to come out and do some gardening. I don’t know if we can stop this and keep him here. I want to believe that I have a voice, that, as a citizen, my voice matters and that we are truly in a compassionate and democratic country but it doesn’t feel that way.
President Trump wants people off welfare. Taking away the sole provider is not a good start. The government has just inherited three more US citizens that will be needing a lot of assistance since their husband and father is gone and there is a wife who has no family to help out. I am here now with two children, two dogs, Maggie the cat, and my friend who was almost homeless. Does this count? Bali was taking care of 4 US citizens, and some rescue animals. Does that count these days?
President Trump wants people to invest in America. Bali and I fixed up a squatters den in a nice neighborhood and made it into an adorable and cheerful house that has raised property values and made the neighbors happy. Does this count? Bali scrubbed and painted an old run down gas station back to life and now it is charming and busy. He improved the value of that part of the city. Does that count?
Trump wants big money to invest in our country but what about the little people that are improving and investing in the small parts of towns and neighborhoods? If we don’t have millions we don’t earn enough points? Is this country only for the rich now?
Does “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” not pertain to this modern age? We only want, “Your wealthy, highly educated, and big investors that speak fluent English and have an award of some kind”?
I’m off to bed now. I’m exhausted from the drama. I’m so grateful for our substitute grannie who has been organizing my kitchen and cooking. I’m grateful for my son’s godparents that really know how to fight and get things rolling. I’m grateful that I moved to this small town and sweet neighborhood and I have the beginnings of a community already. I have support and help. I’m not alone.
Nothing brings you closer in relationship with God than hard times. Nothing forces us to go deep within and discover a new side of ourselves like troubling times. Nothing teaches what blind faith really is all about until it all hits the fan. This could be an amazing time for us that will bond us as a couple, strengthen us as a family, and deepen our love for the Creator. This doesn’t mean things will work out the way we think we want things to work out, but something good will come of all this in the end.
I want Bali back. I miss him already as I go through his tool box and fix the front door after he told me how to do it on our little jail call this evening. I get sad when I put his clothes away that I washed this morning. I refuse to move any of his things. I even left the coffee cup in his car. It’s like a person died but can still contact you via phone.