A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics
Last week someone in our town ran a stop sign. Well, probably 47 people ran stop signs, but only one resulted in the threat of imminent deportation to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
This chain reaction made me think of the mistakes I’ve made in my life that turned out okay. Times I crashed my car, but in one-person accidents I walked away from. Clueless forays into the bad part of a new city where I was heckled and followed but not raped, robbed, or killed. Lies I told that no one found out about. You’ve probably got memories like this, even if you don’t want to admit them. Nobody’s perfect, although I grant you, some of us are more imperfect than others.
A few of my mistakes had more serious consequences: i’ve lost face, and friends, and have paid big fines to the IRS. But I’ve never ended up belly-chained in the county jail at risk of losing my spouse, home, business, and the community I helped build — after sliding through a stop sign. And I’m grateful. I think that’s mostly a matter of luck, and not having been born in Luxembourg.
The central immigration issue here is that our stop-sign-runner stayed in the U.S. after her three-month visa expired. For, um, 15 years. This is the part where human compassion comes in, a compassion not in evidence on TV and newspaper polls, where many people said vitriolic things and voted to deport. (One local union even advised its members to vote that way, which I find appalling.)
Not dealing with the visa was dumb. Just as dumb as me not paying taxes for three years after my mother died. There are consequences for being dumb, but if it were a crime, half the U.S. Congress would be in jail right now, so don’t get too hot under the collar about it. We’ve all done dumb things, hundreds of them. It’s part of being human.
Our Luxembourgian friend is a lesbian, shouldering a burden of prejudice and legal discrimination as well as a legacy of fear. I don’t know what that’s like, but I can imagine it might paralyze you into not wanting to face more obstacles. She married her partner two weeks after it was legal to in California, and is in the process of completing green-card paperwork.
After eight days in jail, she was sprung, we’re not sure how. Was it because our calls filled the voice-mail boxes at all four of Senator Feinstein’s offices? Did someone pull the right string, one of the many people with connections who started calling in favors? Did a clerk somewhere shrug and reverse the immigration hold?
At the moment, nobody knows. It’s wonderful to have this woman back among us, running her news website that so many depend on. We’re helping raise money for legal fees, and yes, if they let her stay here, we’ll make sure she files immigration paperwork in record time.
Because isn’t that what friends are for? Helping us survive our own mistakes?
Copyright 2017 Molly Fisk