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Exactly a year ago today, I wrote I Am No "Aryan from Darien," a blog post commemorating Independence Day but focused on the nasty turn our country was taking concerning immigration and citizenship. Today, I’m sorry to say that the nasty turn I alluded to has become a darker and harsher reality. What was once feared has, in fact, become policy and although protests abound, I’m really not sure how effective they will be in changing the direction we are heading in.
My post began with a recounting of a day spent on my bike on Governors Island in New York Harbor — a beautiful spot with a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty. I wrote, “I stopped by the Hammock Grove that overlooks Lady Liberty for a quick break. While lounging on one of the many hammocks available, my thoughts turned to the upcoming celebration of the 4th of July, the significance of the Statue of Liberty to the world — and more specifically, to my own heritage — and the current state of affairs in the U. S.
Now, most people think I’m an 'Aryan from Darien,' but the truth is, I’m only a second-generation American and I’m half Portuguese — an ethnicity that was not always welcomed with open arms but nonetheless, had no barriers to admittance and eventual citizenship.
My grandparents came to the U.S. from Guyana and passed through this very harbor seeking a new homeland. I wondered, how did the U.S. go from a land of opportunity, welcome, and refuge to a place where immigrants are feared, reviled, and looked upon with suspicion.”
From the beginning of his campaign and all through his presidency, President Trump has taken a polarizing stand on immigration. He blames many of our society’s ills on immigrants and frequently uses derogatory words to describe groups of people. The proposed wall to be built on our southern border to keep people out is still on the agenda, the travel ban of certain Muslim countries was upheld by the Supreme Court recently. And that leads us to the latest debacle brought about by the Trump Administration.
“Since early May, 2,342 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the Southern U.S. border, according to the Department of Homeland Security, as part of a new immigration strategy by the Trump administration that has prompted widespread outcry,” wrote Camila Domonoske and Richard Gonzales in an article featured on the NPR site.
Despite what Trump claims, there is no law mandating the separation of families. And to no surprise, his administration has declared a ‘zero-tolerance’ stance prosecuting all individuals caught entering the U.S. illegally. This new policy, in effect, separates families as the parents are jailed and the children are placed in custody — with relatives, in foster care, or placed in shelters.
According to an article written by Miriam Valverde on politifact.com, “More than 650 children were separated from their parents during a two-week period in May as a result of the new approach being implemented. As the Trump administration argues, referring immigrants for prosecution is not new policy. But prior administrations did not enforce the practice the way Trump has.”
Before this new policy, families were kept together and either immediately deported or were paroled and allowed to stay. “Now, prosecution is happening across the board and has become the uniform policy.”
In any event, since my blog is not a current event news source and these events are being reported everywhere, I’d like to segue this topic to a surprising place — an op-ed piece in the Washington Post written by none other than our ex-First Lady, Laura Bush. Despite my feelings about George W (although, he’s looking pretty good to me these days), I’ve always admired Laura and the quiet dignity she always displayed. When I heard that she wrote an op-ed on this ongoing tragedy, I knew I had to read it. And, honestly, I was so surprised by her candor and outrage that I thought I should include it in this week’s post.
Op-Ed in the Washington Post
by Laura Bush
“On Sunday, a day we as a nation set aside to honor fathers and the bonds of family, I was among the millions of Americans who watched images of children who have been torn from their parents. In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care. More than 100 of these children are younger than 4 years old. The reason for these separations is a zero-tolerance policy for their parents, who are accused of illegally crossing our borders.
I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.
Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the internment camps for U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. We also know that this treatment inflicts trauma; those who have been interned have been twice as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not interned.
Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place.
People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer. I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.
Recently, Colleen Kraft, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a shelter run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. She reported that while there were beds, toys, crayons, a playground and diaper changes, the people working at the shelter had been instructed not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them. Imagine not being able to pick up a child who is not yet out of diapers.
Twenty-nine years ago, my mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, visited Grandma’s House, a home for children with HIV/AIDS in Washington. Back then, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the disease was a death sentence, and most babies born with it were considered “untouchables.” During her visit, Barbara — who was the first lady at the time — picked up a fussy, dying baby named Donovan and snuggled him against her shoulder to soothe him. My mother-in-law never viewed her embrace of that fragile child as courageous. She simply saw it as the right thing to do in a world that can be arbitrary, unkind and even cruel. She, who after the death of her 3-year-old daughter knew what it was to lose a child, believed that every child is deserving of human kindness, compassion and love.
In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.”
Despite my feelings about Trump and his administration, I understand that there are people who feel represented and believe the Trumpian mantra, “Make America Great Again,” and that is there right because we live in a democracy. But this latest policy is not an issue of politics and party lines, rather it’s an issue of humanity run amok. It’s an issue of decency, it’s an issue of civility, and yes, it's an issue of morality at its core.
Cooking for Joan
When I was deciding on this week’s recipe, I, of course, wanted to showcase an American dish appropriate for the 4th of July. What’s more American than good old fashioned apple pie, I thought. However, that seemed too expected and traditional.
So, I’m offering up a twist on the standard dessert — Baked Apple Roses! I found this recipe on a Tip Hero fast action video. At first, you may think it’s an intimidating dish — baking, precise rolling…ugh! But it’s relatively easy as long as you follow the recipe and/or watch the informative and entertaining video. The end result is not only delicious, it’s really pretty!
Serve it as a brunch item or make it a dessert.
Happy 4th of July!
Click for the Video Recipe
Baked Apple Roses
Prep Time: 20 min | Cook Time: 45 min | Difficulty: Medium
- 4 red apples, cored and halved (leave the skin on)
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 3 Tbsp apricot or any favorite fruit preserves
- 2 Tbsp water (plus more for apple soak)
- 1 sheet of puff pastry Cinnamon, to taste
- Confectioners sugar to garnish
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
On a cutting board, take a halved apple with the skin side up and horizontally slice 1/8” thin slices (the apple slice should be in a half moon shape)
Put apple slices in microwave safe bowl. Fill bowl with water and juice from half a lemon
(Use enough water to make sure apple slices are covered by water)
Microwave for 3 minutes. This will soften the apple slices and make them more pliable for rolling up.
Grab a sheet of puff pastry. Flour your board and roll out the puff pastry enough to make 6 strips at 3 inches wide. Use a pastry or pizza wheel or a knife.
In a bowl mix your favorite fruit preserves with 2 tablespoons of water. Then lightly spoon out the preserves in the center of the strip of puff pastry.
Place the apple slices long ways halfway on the strip. Keep adding slices until you reach the end.
Sprinkle on a little cinnamon on each slice
Then fold the puff pastry over the bottom of the apple slices.
Roll up the puff pastry and place in a greased muffin tin.
Bake the apple roses for 35-45 minutes.
Pull out of oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
Give each rose a dusting of sugar and serve