Our Dandelion Fantasy Team

Hey Sunday Peeps.

Photo: Tina Phillips

So all the Colbert talk got me thinking. There’s a real vacuum in terms of a public figures coming out loud and proud in support of CIR, Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I feel that the lack of public figures is symptomatic to what’s going on in the country as a whole. I believe that there are public figures who can rock their privileges and platforms for the good of the CIR. I feel that just as with the general public, the very well-known peeps either don’t care, don’t agree and/or are afraid to make politically incorrect mistakes.

But no matter how you slice it, we’re not having much-needed and necessary dialogue. Moving past preaching to the choir or screeching at those who don’t agree. A public figure popping up and out could get things cracking.

You know how people create fantasy football teams and the like? Well, I’m taking my dandelion and making my top two wishes for the peeps that I’d like to see pick up the CIR banner in their own style and voice:

1. Cesar Millan, aka The Dog Whisperer. This New York Times article talks about how he was undocumented in the U.S. way back in the day. I know that animals, particularly dogs, are his passion and his gift. I really love his show and respect his work. I think that he could bring his  much-needed “calm yet assertive “energy to the public conversation, as well as open up the lines of communication for groups of people who are uncomfortable dialoging on this issue.

2. Oprah Winfrey. I know that there are some DREAM Act students that are already all over that idea and are working on it. What if she at the very least promoted We Are Americans as a last hurrah in the final season of her book club? I feel that she has the potential for being a great ally for CIR.

Who would you like to see? Let’s build a Dandelion Fantasy Soccer Team! ( or fútbol – wink to Anne B:)

So we need nine more players, i.e. public figures. Who would you put and why?

And this is not a test! I’m simply curious to see who’d be your dandelion wish:)

Mr. Colbert, You Can Shut Up Now

Hey peeps.

So I watched the video of Stephen Colbert testifying on Capitol Hill about immigration and AgJobs. More than once. I didn’t find it funny. You know what it felt like? A high school student doing a presentation in front of a class where they’re aiming for a good grade from the teacher, as well as snarky laughs from their classmates at the same time.

Listen, I’m not saying that you can’t be funny about immigration and AgJobs. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in Mexico it’s that you either laugh or cry about the tragic stuff in life. And laughing always wins in the end.  So nothing is sacred in my life. I’ve made more than my fair share of immigration jokes, as has my husband Picasso. Christ, he and I made deportation jokes as we were waiting to be interviewed by what ended up being a deportation officer in Chicago. Gallows humor and all that.

But what are people applauding with Colbert’s testimony on Capitol Hill? The fact that a white man picked some beans and corn? His word play?

What did Colbert really do today besides let U.S. citizens who are not directly  affected by immigration issues off the hook? U.S. citizens, particularly white citizens,  can finally laugh about the fart in the room, i.e. the tragically broken immigration system in the U.S.

Because (insert sarcastic voice here) I know that it’s so hard for them. They want to help, but their hands are tied. So Steven Colbert brings “much-needed” humor to the situation. They re-post the video, to show that they’re “pro-immigration reform.”

Muchisimas gracias.

You know, I was a professional comedy improviser way back in the day. Comedy Improv Rule #1: Make your partner look good. Comedy Improv Rule #2: Commit to the scene and your character 100%.

Colbert did neither in his testimony. The United Farm Workers (UFW) being his partner, of course. And by extension, Arturo Rodríguez, president of the UFW. And what was Colbert’s role? Concerned humanitarian? Comic commentator with a cause?

Or was it as a high school student winking his way through an oral presentation in front of the class?

For every person in the U.S. who isn’t directly affected by immigration issues and re-posts that video while applauding Colbert, I feel that it’s the equivalent of when a white person says, “I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body; as a matter of fact, I have lots of black friends!”

And his reference to gay Iowans as corn packers is reaching for the bottom of the humor barrel. Because (insert sarcastic voice here) when all else fails, throw in a gay joke!

His other reference to, “trying to get them to sing field songs” has definite associations with slavery. And when he says it, he’s looking for the laugh.

So this is the reality: Colbert’s testimony in front of Congress will go viral way before any DREAM Act videos do. I just have to look at my facebook news feed to prove that fact.

At the very end of the video, Colbert is asked why he’s interested in this issue. The first sentence to his answer:

I like talking about people who don’t have any power.

Interesting how he says “talking about” instead of “talking with

Mr. Colbert, learn to be a better ally.

First step? Think before you open your mouth.

Leaving/Returning

Hey peeps. I’m hard-core tired, thus the twitter-like quality of this blog post.

Yesterday I realized that I started this blog on September 11, 2009. All sorts of reasons for that. So the blog is officially one year old. Cool – thanks for sticking with me.

This time last year I was at the very beginning of my tour in the U.S. with my show, The Deportee’s Wife. I came back to Mexico in November – Thanksgiving to be exact.

It was a brutal return home. I cried hot tears in the Benito Juárez airport in Mexico City while waiting for the bus to take R and I to go back to our house. I was very happy to see R again. But I wasn’t happy at all to see R in Mexico.

That’s life as a this deported man’s wife:  I always cry upon leaving.

And sometimes I cry upon return.

Pedro Guzman Perez

Hey kids.

UPDATE: PEDRO WAS RELEASED ON MAY 17, 2011! 🙂

You know, until there’s comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S., then we have to battle the injustices one at a time. Sad, but true.

Pedro’s been in detention for the past 11 months-almost one year. He’s presently in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. Emily lives with their son Logan in North Carolina. Pedro, quite simply, is losing hope.

I’d like to include a paragraph from Emily’s letter of support:

Dear Honorable Immigration Judge,

My name is Emily Nelson Guzman.  I write this letter in support of my husband, Pedro Perez Guzman (Pedro), as he seeks to be released from the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—whether that be on his own recognizance or upon payment of bond.

I met Pedro in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the year 2000.  We were young and neither of us had cars and we were both waiting for the bus.  He asked me what time it was, even though he had a watch.  Soon, after running in to each other consistently in the neighborhood, he asked me out for Valentine’s Day and that was our first date.  It was very romantic and we fell in love quickly.  Pedro had left California to turn over a new leaf and clean up his life.  He was tired of being in the “wrong crowd” and needed to put some space between himself and the bad influences in his life.  I was in college studying child psychology at the University of Minnesota.  We both wanted to improve our lives for the better and, as we began dating, we taught each other wonderful and important things.  He shared with me his spontaneity, industriousness, cleanliness, equality in a relationship, the importance of family, and passion for justice.  I shared with him academic vocabulary, vulnerability, compassion, making a home, communication of feelings, the importance of education, and unconditional love.  We have grown and shared so much over the almost ten years we have been together.  He supported me through undergraduate school, and then through my Master’s program.  At first, Pedro was skeptical of the world of psychological therapy, but he grew to appreciate it and ended up advising other friends and family to seek help.  I supported him through truck driving school.  We both wanted a better life than what we had before we met each other, and together we have made a wonderful life and family.  He changed my life and I changed his.

You can read the rest of her letter here.

Pedro’s story is complicated. My husband has a complicated story. Many deportees or immigrants under the threat of deportation have complicated stories. There are deep reasons for that, and many of them are connected to issues around race and class.

I ask that you take the time today to work through the details and send a letter to Secretary Jane Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security.

And hold your loved ones closer tonight, if you can.


Landslide

Hey kids.

What I really want to talk about today must stay in my heart.

Everything’s cool. It’s just that there’s a clear and definite line about what I want to write about and what’s fit for public consumption 😉

Give me a day to regroup and recharge, and I’ll be back 🙂

So I’m cashing in a rainy day pass with Stevie Nicks. The older I get, the more that this song speaks to me.

What songs are on your top ten list? This is definitely one of mine.

*Update: So if you click on the link, it will take you to the video.* Ah, Mondays!

Late August, 2010

Hey kids.

As August of 2010 comes to a close, I woke up this morning thinking about the fact that it was at some point during mid-August of 2001 that I arrived to Mexico.

The exact date of when I was reunited with R again is lost. But I know that it was August of 2001.

At the time, I was working as an executive assistant in the sales department of a relatively large company in Chicago. I was also working as a server for a caterer on weekends.

I was at the office late one night, doing something that I dreaded as an executive assistant: Putting together sales packets for an upcoming presentation for a member of the sales team.

I snapped that night. What was I doing, literally on my knees, hunched over the packets, checking them over and over again to make sure that the pages were correct?

What was I hiding from? Why wasn’t I in Mexico with R?

I had visited R in Mexico in June of 2001, over the course of a long weekend. We had a lot of extremely painful and gut-wrenching things to say to each other face-to-face.

We did that. And R invited me to come live with him in Mexico. I said yes, but I kept putting it off, citing credit card bills and wanting to save money before I left.

In my situation, I now know that it was because I was afraid to come to Mexico and face facts about myself as an individual, as well as my marriage.

Years later, R told me that when he said goodbye to me after that long weekend in June of 2001, he was sure that he was never going to see me again. Even though I said yes to his invitation to come and live with him in Mexico.

He watched me go through the gate at the Benito Juárez airport in Mexico City. When I turned to look at him, he was already walking away.

There was a tremendous amount of damage and anger between us. I don’t blame him for feeling that way. At that point, giving R my word had all of the weight of a soap bubble in a thunderstorm.

And yet, my initial hesitation about moving to Mexico never tangled with a fear of physically living in the country. My physical safety was never part of the decision-making process in 2001.

While there was always violence in Mexico, starting from way before I arrived, it is definitively different now.

And the lefty-leaning liberals in the U.S. can talk all they want about U.S. media machines churning out biased pieces that are “ruining” Mexico’s “good name.”

There’s a piece of that in this whole mess, sure.

But the fact that I no longer go outside our house by myself after dark to walk down the street to the grocery store speaks to a whole other truth as well.

Right now the common thought is that as long as you don’t play a part in the Mexico-U.S. drug drama, you will not be touched.

But my feeling today is that the safety catch on that idea is already removed.

May I be completely and totally wrong. I truly hope so.

Time will tell us, won’t it? Time will tell.

Canada’s Immigration Quagmire

Hey peeps.

It’s good that I’m not doing video today, because I’m all kinds of sadness and rage today.

There’s a tremendous amount of craziness going on in the U.S. and Mexico. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, then, you’re just not paying attention.

But I want to talk about something that won’t hit the news today: Canada.

This was brought on by events that happened to a dear friend.

I’m really so tired of Canada being perceived as this gentle and benevolent relative, the sweetly nutty “good cop” to the U.S.’s “bad cop.”

In a previous post, I talked about how R wasn’t allowed into Canada in 2007, when he was allowed to enter without any problems the previous year, 2006.

Here’s the excerpt from the Canada section of my show. You should take a seat, because it is definitely not short and sweet.

The summer of 2006, R went to Canada, to Toronto.  He answered an ad on craigslist for a man I’ll call Steven who was looking for a Mexican to come and do carpentry and construction work on his house.  Steven got R a direct flight to Toronto, because R can’t even change planes in the US.  He entered Canada without a problem, using a letter of invitation from Steven.  He worked off the books for a few months, earned some good money, had a great time, came home happy.

Steven really liked R’s work, and he invited him to come back again the next summer, the summer of 2007.  Everything was the same, the direct flight from Mexico, the letter of invitation.

R got off the plane and arrived to the immigration area at the Pearson International Airport, in Toronto.   A Canadian immigration official asked R if he’d ever been arrested.  R was nervous.  He said no.  He figured that he’d never been arrested in Mexico, where he was coming from, or Canada, where he was going to.  And his pride got a little bit in the way as well.

The immigration official told him to take a seat.

In 2006, R was not asked by Canadian immigration officials if he’d ever been arrested.  R had time to think when he was sitting in that chair, and when the official who stopped him walked by, R said, “You know, I thought about your question and I have been arrested, but in 1993, in the United States.”  “I know,” the official said, “It came up on my screen.”

Now R started to get nervous.  There was a group of Mexican men, detained from the two flights that came in from Mexico City.

The immigration official escorted R down to baggage claim.

On the way down R did a last-ditch attempt and said to the official, “You know, I entered Canada last year without any problems and I had a great time in your country.”  “Yeah,” the official said, “Whoever let you in last year was not doing their job.”

R picked up his luggage, and the customs agent asked him if he’d ever been arrested and now R knew the right answer: Yes, in 1993 in the United States.

The customs agent ran a swab all over R’s suitcase.  He analyzed the results.  Who else has been in possession of this luggage?  he asked R.

A week before, I came to the States, Colorado, and my mother’s house in New York.  Then the suitcase came back with me to Mexico, and I put it up on the shelf in our closet, where it always went.

The customs agent said, “Your suitcase is testing positive for traces of cocaine.”

Now, I don’t do cocaine.  R doesn’t do cocaine. My mother doesn’t do cocaine.  Set-up? I don’t rule out that possibility.

R was escorted back upstairs to the immigration area.  All of the men were taken into a small room, one by one.  When R entered that room, he was told to sign the documents that were on the table.  R refused.  The Canadian immigration officials were surprised.  He was the only one from the group of detained men who said no. They thought that he didn’t understand English.

An interpreter told him in Spanish that he had to sign the documents.  R answered in English that he would not sign them.  He was escorted out of the room.

All of the men, except for R, signed the documents. All of the men, except for R were handcuffed and paraded out through the International Arrivals exit, where they were taken to a Canadian jail for the night.  R was not given an explanation as to why he didn’t go with the group. R was only told to stay seated on his plastic chair.

Apart from the fact that R didn’t sign any documents that day, he and I both think he was treated differently because of Steven, the guy R was going to work for.  On his letter of invitation, it stated that Steven worked for one of the biggest banks in Canada.  Steven is also a well-dressed white male, with blonde hair and blue eyes.

And he kept checking up on R.  He either spoke to the Canadian immigration officials in person, or called them on his Blackberry.  No one else in the group of detained men had someone checking after them.

So we feel that Canadian immigration officials did not want to push R to sign any documents that day, because then he would be paraded handcuffed, through the International Arrivals exit, where blonde-haired, blue-eyed well-dressed banker Steven could see him.

R was forced to stay seated on that plastic chair all night.  He wasn’t given any food or water.  When the air conditioning came on full blast at 3:30 in the morning, he wasn’t given any type of covering.  He got a rash around his waist for sitting for so many hours.

I received a call from Steven around midnight in Mexico.  He told me that R was not allowed to enter Canada, he didn’t know why.  I truly started to panic.  I knew how things could turn on a dime, and half an hour later your husband is handcuffed, in a prison uniform, behind bullet proof glass.

At first light, I called my Canadian friends, and we all started calling around.  If you ever need to call the Detention Center at Pearson International Airport, be prepared to be sent directly to voice mail, no matter what time you call, no matter how many times you call.

When my Canadian friends tried other numbers, they were told they couldn’t be given any information, because they weren’t family.  When I tried those same numbers I was told that I couldn’t be given any information because I couldn’t prove that I was R’s wife.

8am, 9am, 10am, the day after R left Mexico and I don’t know where my husband is.  I finally called the Mexican consulate in Toronto, and a representative called me back quickly and told me that R was indeed on a flight back to Mexico City that would arrive at 12:30 in the afternoon.

The Mexican men who were sent to prison overnight were brought back to the airport in the morning.  Many of them had never been in prison before; they were scared out of their minds and hadn’t slept. They were surprised to see R, still sitting there on a plastic chair.

R had to sign one document, if he was to leave Canada that day-a voluntary removal form.

If R didn’t sign that document, that voluntary removal form, then he’d have the “choice” to contest the fact that he wasn’t allowed to enter Canada.  He’d go to jail for approximately two weeks and then go before a Canadian immigration judge.  Depending on how the judge ruled, he’d either go back to Canadian jail, or be deported from Canada.  Obviously, there wasn’t really a choice.  He signed the form.

R was escorted to the gate to board the plane by the same Canadian immigration official who had detained him the day before.  And he appeared to have a change of heart.  “Listen,” he said, “get the police report of your arrest from 1993, and depending on the immigration officer, you could enter Canada as early as tomorrow afternoon.”

R just stared at him. Burned holes with his eyes.  “What would make  you think I’d ever want to come back to Canada again?”

R came back home broken, angry and ashamed.  He said that he needed to get out for a while, to clear his head.  He went to work in Ciudad Juárez, for three weeks in construction, under that burning sun and whip-like sandstorms.  I finally begged him to come home, and he came back quietly, making sure not to slam our front door when he arrived.

In the summer of 2007, R didn’t try to enter the United States.  At this level of the game, that wouldn’t have made any sense.  He tried to enter Canada, a country that had welcomed him with open arms just the year before.  The issue of him working off the books never came up.  It was all about his arrest from 1993 in the US.

Canada supposedly has its own set of policies and procedures for handling detained immigrants.  When we were looking for R, my friends assured me that Canada was not the United States.  Sure, immigrants were detained, but they were taken to an average hotel, they had a bed, a shower, and a meal.

Granted, there was a guard outside the door, but they were treated humanely.  Canada, was not the US.  Many Canadians often smugly pride themselves for not being the US’s lackey on the world’s playground.

What does this mean for the future?  If we want to visit England one day, will R not be allowed in because England is in a political relationship with the US, and something will come up on the airport computer screen?  Will there be other countries that R won’t be able to enter?

Will I, one day, not be allowed to enter the US or Canada or any other country because I’m his legal wife? Is my husband on some terrorist list, as a gun-toting Mexican who does cocaine?  Am I on some terrorist list, as the legal wife of a gun-toting Mexican who does cocaine?

Kids, that’s where I’m at today. In my opinion, Canada is not safe space for couples with undocumented experiences in the U.S.

Another country’s door closed for R and I. And in some ways, the Canada episode cut more deeply than R’s deportation from the U.S.

Incredible, but true.