Tag Archives: Immigration

A bit of my History in Pictures

It has come to my attention as I was selling and signing books at the Menil Fest today that I have failed to write any blogs for a very long time. It’s easy to rely on re-posting or re-blogging information that is sent to me. Add to that my daughter’s wedding and all that goes with it, I’ve been a busy monkey these past few months. I get lazy about posting.

So I thought, why not give you a few pictures of my father’s childhood home and my grandparent’s life.

My father was born in October of 1925 in Capetown, South Africa.

Now, if you knew my father you would never have guessed that he was born anywhere but Texas. You would never know that his father spoke with a Scottish accent and his mother spoke with a German accent, because all Robbie Thompson sounded like was a Texan through and through. His drawl was long, and like any true Texan, he never met a stranger, and he drank coffee with everything.

His mother, my Nannie, once told me that she could see Table-top mountain from her hospital window when she was giving birth to him. Here’s a picture of my father’s father when he was a tot. He was younger than two here. His brother and sister are in the picture. I met his sister when I was a child. She came to visit us. I remember she was very proper sounding.3821156377_d8087a04ba_m

My great grandfather was a hotelier in Durban, SA. When my grandfather was born in Glasgow, Scotland, his father took the rest of the family and went by wooden ship to Durban, leaving my grandfather and his mom in Glasgow until he was two at which time they took another ship and went to Durban. Here’s a picture of my grandfather’s parents:3821158323_55cb36484a

My grandfather was a preacher for the government of S.A. He was assigned to provide protestant services to the Rangers at the ranger stations.Here’s a picture of him working in a native hut:3821157683_74f18db8aa

He and my grandmother were allowed to live in a caboose kitted out like a home. Here’s a picture:

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The caboose was attached to the train and pulled to a ranger station and left on a side line. The train would travel all the way around the country of S. A. until they came back to that station. The caboose was reattached and taken to the next ranger station and so on. This went on for ten years. My father was born in 1925 and my aunt was born in 1928. My father lived on the caboose for seven years. Here’s a picture of my father and my aunt Ruth:

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Here’s a picture of my grandfather, grandmother, father and Ruth:3821152965_ba91935106_s

Here’s another picture: 3821160793_4e6828c357My grandmother was born in Weimar, TX. Even though she lived in S. A. she always loved Texas best of all. She could travel anywhere in the world and she always wanted to come home to Texas more than anything else. She was German. You probably know that there is a huge population of Germans and Czechoslovakian here in Texas. Galveston was second to Ellis Island for taking in immigrants. In the late 1800’s there were a lot of Slavic and Baltic people coming to the U.S. My grandmother’s parents were from Prussia. She was a first generation American.

She did not speak English until first grade. But after WWII she would not admit to knowing German, she was ashamed of what happened in Germany. But when I was a very small child she sang lullabies to us in German. I guess she thought we would never remember them, but I do.

Crossing the Line

An enlargeable topographic map of Mexico
Image via Wikipedia

Maria is  someone I have known for many years. When first we met she told me she wanted to learn English better so she could get a good job. I was thrilled to help out. We’ve been friends for about fifteen years. Eventually she met more of my family members including my mother, and I’ve met all of her immediate family.

My mother loves her. So we invited her to work for my mother as her aide. And that’s when we discovered that Maria doesn’t have a social security card. I was puzzled at first. What did that mean? It couldn’t be that she was an illegal alien, surely.

Maria and her husband have been in the United States for over twenty years. Maria has ten brothers and sisters. All of them live in the US. Her parents live in a mountainous region of Mexico, in a village with a name I can’t remember because I can’t pronounce it. Their children recently sent them a computer so they are able to feel more acutely linked to their children and grandchildren.

Maria and her siblings haven’t been to visit their parents in years because of the violence.

There is a terrible civil war going on in Mexico and it doesn’t get much press. They recently found twelve people beheaded in Acapulco, a favorite resort on the pacific coast of southern Mexico. Five women who worked in a beauty parlor were the most recent victims. That should be enough to slow the tourist trade, but it won’t be because this news won’t travel past north Texas. The line is drawn in the sand somewhere along the Rio Grande and not much news on these terrible gun, knife, machete killings gets past it.

It isn’t the only news that won’t travel far. There are wild fires burning from West Texas to Magnolia, just north of Houston. People are losing their homes. But it won’t be big news outside of Texas. I guess our Texas Independent streak comes around to bite us in the behind every once in a while.

Not only are there beheading in Acapulco. There were 64 bodies found just south of our Texas border. These were not just Mexican nationals but some tourists as well. If it weren’t for those tourists, I wonder if we would have heard about it. This is huge. For over fifteen years, there has been a serial killer or killers in Mexico, and this doesn’t get any press. This person or persons preys on young girls along the Texas, Mexico border. Their bodies are found in shallow graves in obscure ranch country, usually on the Mexican side. There’s lots of wide open spaces along there. And there isn’t enough press about it. The warning isn’t out. Girls continue to disappear. And now with the drug wars raging, who knows what or who is involved. Because it isn’t just the young prostitutes now, but entire families who are being murdered.

It’s a regular killing field.

There are revenge killings, and revenge for revenge killings. There is no end in sight. The president of Mexico vows to crack down on the drug lords and the drug lords vow to never stop the murders. Diplomats, US drug agents, city officials, police officials, their families, and so on and on. In Mexico, no one is safe. If you have money, you are not safe. If you do not have money, you are not safe.

When I discovered that my friend Maria was an illegal alien, I offered to sponsor her process to become an American citizen. That was what she wanted, more than anything, to become an American. So I went to an immigration lawyer. I asked what steps I needed to take to help my friend.

“None.”

“What?”

“There is nothing you can do,” he told me.

“I can pay for her papers.”

“No. There are three steps in becoming an American citizen. You can pay for steps one and two. But the law is firm. You can not proceed to step three. Don’t waste your money.”

“But she’s been here a long time. She’s never even gotten a ticket.”

“There is nothing you can do.”

“Is there anything she can do?” I asked.

“No.”

Nothing. Nada. She can not become an American, which she wants to be very much. She wants to pay taxes. She wants to provide a better life for her three children. And she can’t. She can’t go back to Mexico, even to visit her parents. And she can’t become an American citizen.

Where did we cross the line from picking and choosing who gets to be an American? We offer visas to foreigners who would rather blow us up than to ever become productive hard-working citizens. But our wonderful Mexican neighbors who would rather work for sixty dollars a day constructing a roof here, than sit in a card-board hovel begging for pesos in a blood-spattered border town, can’t become Americans. We can’t even pay to make them citizens.

What?

Something is wrong with that.