You Can Serve Our Country Overseas (Unlike Me), But Don’t Let Your Kid Be Born There, Says Trump

The Trump administration said Wednesday that children born to U.S. military members and government employees working overseas will no longer automatically be considered United States citizens.

The new policy guidance states that USCIS “no longer considers children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members residing outside the United States as ‘residing in the United States’ for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.”

The guidance states that “U.S. citizen parents who are residing outside the United States with children who are not U.S. citizens should apply for U.S. citizenship on behalf of their children under INA 322, and must complete the process before the child’s 18th birthday.”

Wow. Just…wow. I guess that’s one way of cutting down on immigration. If this was the case when the late John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone to parents stationed there in the military, he wouldn’t be considered a natural born American citizen and couldn’t have run for the office of president. Huh…


Give Me Your Tired, Your Wealthy, Your Slovenian In-Law Chain Migrators

From CNN:

The acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services in a new interview revised the iconic poem on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal to suggest that only immigrants who can “stand on their own two feet” are welcome in the United States.

Ken Cuccinelli tweaked the famous poem from Emma Lazarus — whose words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” are long associated with immigration to the US and the nation’s history as a haven — as part of a case for strict new measures pushed Monday by the Trump administration that could dramatically change the legal immigration system.
“Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’s words etched on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, give me your poor,’ are also a part of the American ethos?” NPR’s Rachel Martin asked Cuccinelli on “Morning Edition” in an interview published Tuesday.
They certainly are: ‘Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,'” he replied. “That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge was passed — very interesting timing.”
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So, Tell Me. What Do These Two Contribute?

From the Washington Post:

As the uproar over President Trump’s racist remarks demanding four minority Democratic lawmakers “go back [to countries] from which they came” continued to flare Tuesday, the White House prepared to roll out a plan that would detail the type of immigrants the administration wants to admit to the United States. 

That interruption Tuesday is far from the only obstacle White House will face this year as it tries to generate momentum for its new immigration plan, which aims to reorient the current legal immigration system to one based primarily on an immigrant’s ability to contribute to the economy, rather than on family ties.

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Melania Trump’s parents, Amalija Knavs and “Trump stunt double” Viktor Knavs


Having Spoken, Brave Yertle the Turtle Went Back Into His Shell

From CNN:

Asked if he would consider it a racist attack if someone told his wife Elaine Chao — who is the US Secretary of Transportation and an immigrant and naturalized US citizen — to go back to her own country, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sidestepped the question and talked about his support for legal immigration.

“The Secretary of Transportation came here at the age of 8 not speaking a word of English, and has recognized the American dream. This is a process of renewal that’s gone on in this country for a very long time, and it’s good for America. We ought to continue it,” he told reporters.

McConnell continued: “As I said, the legal immigration has been a fulfilling of the American dream. The new people who come here have a lot of ambition, a lot of energy, tend to do very well and invigorate our country. My wife is a good example of that.”

He went on to say President Trump is “not a racist.”

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The U.S. Doesn’t Have a Border Crisis. Trump’s Campaign Does.

From New York Magazine, by Jonathan Chait:

In a short, uncharacteristically non-meandering speech to the nation from the Oval Office punctuated by loud sniffing, [emphasis mine, TTPT] President Trump depicted illegal immigration as an urgent crisis. In place of cogent policy arguments, Trump substituted his familiar anecdotes about immigrants rampaging the countryside to commit a series of grisly crimes against law-abiding Americans.

A more realistic assessment was provided by administration officials, who told the Washington Post (as the Post reporter put it), “Trump believes forcing a drastic reckoning by executive action may be necessary given the Democratic resistance and the wall’s symbolic power for his core voters.”

Two words in that sentence, symbolic power, tell you everything you need to know about Trump’s motivation. A symbolic goal is the opposite of a crisis.

The lack of a wall is a crisis for Trump, of course, because it is his most famous policy goal — for many of his voters, probably the only one that springs to mind. Failure to fulfill it may hurt him badly in 2020. It is not rationally connected to either illegal immigration nor to crime. The administration recently claimed 4,000 suspected terrorists crossed the southern border in the first half of last year. The actual number is six.

Amazingly, it is not even a goal Trump himself has pursued with any urgency until this last December. He devoted almost no effort to securing wall funds during the two years when his party enjoyed full control of government (during which he might have leveraged Republican desperation for corporate tax cuts to force them to fund his wall). His 2019 budget proposed to spend just $1.6 billion more on border security — which is to say, he is now demanding Congress give him three times as much as he asked for in his own blue-sky plan. As recently as December 19, he told Congress he would sign a clean bill to continue government funding with no additional fencing.

Trump shut the government down in an impulsive fit, failing to anticipate either the pain the shutdown would create nor any strategy for escaping it. Typically, shutdowns create a political backlash against either the party that is refusing to reopen government absent some political demand (because they’re the ones who won’t simply restore the status quo ante) or the president (because Americans tend to hold presidents accountable). In this case, those are both the same person. Indeed, Trump closed off any chance of winning the debate at the outset by claiming responsibility for the shutdown and even promising not to blame it on his opponents.

In lieu of any leverage, Trump could only assert, “I have invited congressional leadership to the White House to get this done.” He repeated the last three words slowly for emphasis, but it will only serve to underscore his own impotence.

The apparent logic of his speech was that the force of presidential rhetoric would rally the public to his side. But Trump could not even maintain the appearance of believing such a fanciful story. In an astonishing comment to reporters beforehand, the president confessed he didn’t want to give the speech or take a planned trip to the border. “It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it,” he said, adding that “these people behind you” — pointing to his communications staffers — “say it’s worth it.”

It’s unlikely even a highly articulate, popular president could escape the mess Trump has created for himself. Trump is none of these things.


Sounds Like a Description of America Under the Trump Administration

Trump on immigrants being coached by their lawyers:

“They have professional lawyers,” he said. “Some are for good, others are do-gooders, and others are bad people. And they tell these people exactly what to say. They say, ‘Say the following’ — they write it down — ‘I am being harmed in my country. My country is extremely dangerous. I fear for my life.’ ”

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Hypocrisy 101: Melania’s Folks

Feb. 6 tweet from Donald Trump:

“We need a 21st Century MERIT-BASED immigration system,” he tweeted. “Chain migration and the visa lottery are outdated programs that hurt our economic and national security.”


The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple gained their green cards.

Immigration experts said Viktor and Amalija Knavs very likely relied on a family reunification process that President Trump has derided as “chain migration” and proposed ending in such cases.


It’s good to be the in-laws!


We Are All Immigrants

My good friend, Frumpzilla, over at The Frump Gazette had an excellent piece the other day on the U.S. as a nation comprised of immigrants.  If you haven’t seen it yet, click here.  It’s a must read, as always. 

Our country used to “lift our lamp beside the golden door”, but now it seems we’ve turned out the light and are pretending nobody’s home.

That got me thinking about my own family immigration history.  Some ancestors were here as early as the 1630’s, having left France by way of England after the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris.  Others, the Norwegian side of my mother’s family, got here fairly recently in the 1870’s.  Since they’re the “newest” immigrants in my family, I’d like to show you some photos and tell their story a bit.

This is my maternal grandmother, Annette, or "Nettie." She was first-generation Norwegian-American and grew up in Wisconsin.

This is her father, Carl. He came to the United States from Norway in 1871 when he was 20 years old. He joined his brothers who were already working in South Dakota as lumberjacks and eventually settled in Wisconsin and became a successful farmer and respected member of the community.

This tiny little lady was Nettie's mother, Amelia. She came to the U.S. from Norway about the same time as Carl, but as a teenager with her family. Here she is seen in her 80's posing with some of her sons and daughters. I think she had at least nine children, including two sets of twins!

This beautiful young woman was Nettie's sister, Emma. She died tragically at the age of 18 from peritonitis following a ruptured appendix. She had been working at the home of neighbors as a maid or house servant. It breaks my heart to think that she could have been saved if only antibiotics had been discovered earlier. I think the lovely lock of blonde hair tied with a ribbon that I found in my grandmother's old family Bible had to have been hers. In the list of names of the children and their birthdates that my grandmother inscribed in the Bible many years later, Emma's name is conspicuously absent. Perhaps it was too painful for my grandmother to contemplate.

Here is Nettie as a schoolgirl. She's in the middle row to the left, the one with the white shirt, black tie and white floppy hat. When I look at these kids, I try to imagine what they would look like wearing modern clothing. How many Hannah Montana t-shirts would be on the girls and how many sports jerseys and skater pants would be on the boys? It boggles the mind! (One of the girls to the right of Nettie has had the misfortune of having her face scratched over in the photo. Maybe an early form of "de-friending" in the pre-Facebook era?) Click on the photo for an enlarged view.

Nettie went on obtain a teacher's certificate, enabling her to teach the 3rd grade. Some of the subjects were new to me. I looked up "orthoepy" and found it to be the study of the pronunciation of words. Since my grandmother was a Gemini, like me, I'm sure she would have loved to blog if she had been born in my generation! It seems Nettie wasn't taught to speak Norwegian. Her parents, regrettably, didn't teach their children their own native tongue beyond some words and phrases. They only spoke it when they didn't want the kids to know what they were talking about! This is something I wish had been passed along, since bi-lingualism is so much easier to acquire when you're a child rather than an adult. But apparently they felt that they weren't in the Old Country anymore, so that is what they chose to do. There are some people today who don't see the benefit of knowing other languages besides English, but I think we are so much richer as a nation if we recognize that we aren't the center of the universe. Just sayin'... (Again, click on the image to enlarge it.)

Here we have Nettie and her class standing in front of the one-room school house she taught in for two years until she met....

...the dapper young dude on the left, my grandfather, Harold. His ancestors were the ones who were French Huguenots who escaped from France and came to the Colonies in 1630. Harold and Nettie were married and a few years later came...

...my mother, Iris.

Nettie, Harold and Iris moved to California in the early 1930's but came back to Wisconsin to visit family. (The little girl is the daughter of a neighbor.)

My mother found her own hunky dude in the form of my father, Jack, seen here on his Coast Guard ship during WWII. His ancestors came to this country from the Alsace region of France, probably in the early 1700's. (That region typically veered back and forth between the control of France and Germany until finally coming under French rule in recent times.) My Dad's relative during the Revolutionary War provided meat to the troops, so we qualify for membership in the DAR for that "patriotic assistance." They say an army travels on its stomach....

Their union was "blessed" first with the arrival of my brother, Tim, in 1943 and then with me in 1947. Will you get a load of the noggin on that baby!

This is Nettie holding my brother, Tim. Unfortunately, sometime just prior to my birth Nettie was stricken with pernicious anemia, an auto-immune disorder that prevents the absorption of vitamin B12. (I recently learned people of Scandinavian heritage are particularly predisposed to this condition.) Before it could be discovered, she had severe damage to the motor nerves in both legs and for the rest of her life she could only get around haltingly on crutches. My brother remembers her when she was active, able to work (and bring him presents every day!) but I never knew her any other way than as an invalid confined to her home.

This was taken at our home in California, probably around Thanksgiving. Although Nettie is standing with the help of Harold, you can see her crutches leaning against the wall by the door. I don't blame her for not wanting to be photographed with the crutches she depended on for at least twenty-five years. That's me standing in the doorway. I hated to dress up for holidays, so as soon as Grandma saw me in my fancy dress, I zoomed into my room and changed into something more comfortable--jeans and sneakers.

Although Nettie couldn't get around, she remained true to her Gemini nature. Her legs didn't work but her hands were exceptional. She created wonderful handmade fabric dolls and knitted and crocheted items for family. This photo is Nettie and Harold's 50th wedding anniversary. Nettie died in 1965 and Harold followed soon after in 1967.

So here’s a look at a family history that started with some brave individuals who took the chance to come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their descendants.  We owe them a lot.  We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never forget it.