Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beyond FATHERS: “Impounded Fathers” Column by Edwidge Danticat

Father’s Day has always been followed a couple weeks later by my dad’s birthday, which this year was celebrated during a highly memorable family reunion at my sister’s home in upstate New York. I mentioned this in my last post, but it’s fun to note again that my dad turned 77 on 07-07-07. He noted during the party that his first, middle, and last names all have seven letters. A bunch of my siblings got him lottery tickets for gifts and while they’d hoped to give him the fortune he deserves for putting up with all of us, he was happy to win a total of $33; I wouldn’t have been surprised if the tickets had added up to $77, it was that kind of magical day.

I’ve known my dad for more than half his life, and I can’t imagine a day of my life without him. Unfortunately, too many children grow up with little or no memories of their fathers. Belated thanks to Laila Lalami (who’s Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits I enjoyed reading earlier this summer) for a link to author Edwidge Danticat’s New York Times Father’s Day op-ed piece on the horrific impact of current immigration reform on innocent immigrant parents and their American-born children. The loss of one or both parents to strangers who flash badges and offer no explanations must be terrifying enough; the years spent wondering why a parent has disappeared and whether or not he or she will return is a devastating sentence thousands of American-born children are now forced to serve.

Danticat, an American author who hails from Haiti and was separated from her own father for eight long years, calls the most recent impacted families “casualties of a Department of Homeland Security immigration crackdown cheekily titled Operation Return to Sender. The goals of the operation, begun last spring, were to increase the enforcement of immigration laws in the workplace and to catch and deport criminals. Many women and men who have no criminal records have found themselves in its cross hairs. More than 18,000 people have been deported since the operation began last year.”

Danticat notes that a bill introduced last year by Representative José E. Serrano, a Democrat from New York, “would allow immigration judges to take into consideration the fates of American-born children while reviewing their parents’ cases.” “The bill has gone nowhere,” Danticat writes, “while more and more American-citizen children continue to either lose their parents or their country.

“Where are our much-touted family values when it comes to these children?” she asks. In her plea I hear echoes of Laini Taylor’s solemn Fourth of July post: “This isn’t the country we want it to be. It’s not the country it’s supposed to be.”

All this is so easy to ignore when you’re surrounded by your own beloved family, isn’t it?

Photo ©

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Beyond FACTS: Keith Olbermann on Bush’s Already Infamous Libby Pardon

Thanks and kudos to very talented artist/writer Laini Taylor over at Grow Wings (the flag photo above will look familiar!) for her July 4th post on the president’s incomprehensible pardon of Scooter Libby and links to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann’s full commentary on this atrocity. As Laini puts its: “This isn’t the country we want it to be. It’s not the country it’s supposed to be.” And yet we’ll gather our families and friends close today to watch fireworks; we’ll celebrate our freedom knowing so many others suffer atrocities daily; we’ll hope and pray that as the current presidency continues to unravel a new promising order fueled by reason and respect…for citizens of all countries…has already taken root and will flourish as the next leader of our treasured democracy is elected and takes office. And we’ll resolve to pitch in to make sure that happens.

Happy Fourth of July, and Happy “Lucky 7” birthday to my dear dad, Wally DeGroot, who turns 77 on 7-7-07!!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Beyond BUSY: The Not-Exactly Lazy Days of Summer…

…have taken over, an extension of the crazy-busy days of late spring. So I thought I’d post a brief list of very active sites that have been featured on BEYOND Understanding over the past two years. They’re all still going strong and they’re all phenomenal resources for readers interested in tolerance initiatives, diversity issues, and efforts to effect significant change in our world. Enjoy!

The Amber Chand Collection
Facing History and Ourselves
Global Campaign for Education: U.S. Chapter
Global Girlfriend
Have Fun * Do Good
Level Playing Field Institute
MAVIN Foundation
New Demographic