Time to Figure it Out

As I prepare to create another sign for yet another rally—”Families Belong Together”—I think back to a post I wrote on my other blog titled “Not Their Decision to Make.”

Immigration is a hot topic these days. A big question is what to do with the young children crossing the borders into the United States. It’s an issue which I am not trying to solve, but I considered  this problem a great deal while I was writing my father’s story.

 When my Russian-born grandparents decided to return to their homeland with their six New Jersey-born children, none of them could refuse to go. Like all children whose parents relocate to a new town or different state, they had to live with their parents’ decision.

 Years later, when the family decided to leave the Soviet Union, much of the world was already involved in the Second World War. My father was the first to leave, and once German forces invaded, the rest of the family was stuck there.

 My aunts begged the American Embassy for shelter and financial assistance to leave but got little help. The attitude was that they chose to move there, so they were on their own.

As I read the correspondences between the State Department and my father’s family, I could not help but think how wrong this was. They were children when they left New Jersey. It was not their decision to make.

Reading about all the battles occurring at the state and federal level regarding what to do with the children today,  both those born here of non-citizen immigrant parents and those children living here who were brought here, I always think, “It was not their decision to make.”

Seeing and hearing the heart-wrenching video and audio clips of the children who have been separated from their parents at our southernmost boarder is why I am attending another rally.

This has been happening far too long. I wrote “Not Their Decision to Make” more than two years ago. More than two years!

 

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This Rather Than That

So much of what happens to us is all about timing and seemingly insignificant decisions. An employee of Morgan Stanley left her office on the 67th floor of the World Trade Center to have a cigarette just moments before the first plane hit the towers. So she lived. A man from New York escaped death in a Paris café because he was unable to get a reservation for dinner there that night.

Kelly may never have met Mark if the University of Miami Admissions had not lost her application, resulting in her decision to become a Gamecock rather than a Hurricane. If I stayed at Douglass College, I would not have been working at Allied Chemical on that January day in 1977 when Dad asked me out on that first date.

My grandmother came to America in 1913. If she had come 3 ½ years later, her inability to read and write may have prevented her from boarding the ship to America. Congress passed an immigration bill in 1917, which required immigrants to pass a literacy test as one requirement to coming here. Anyone over the age of sixteen who could not read 30-40 words in their own language failed the test. Baba would have failed. This test restricted people because of their intellect as a way of preventing undesirables from immigrating to this country.

In 1920, thousands of Russians were arrested—3000-10000 on a single day—because the Attorney General feared they were communist revolutionaries. Some were deported. Many were guilty of nothing other than having Russian accents. Those raids concentrated primarily on individuals who were not yet U.S citizens.

If my grandfather had not met a man at a restaurant in New York City in 1913, who offered him a job in Rockaway, NJ, would he have been living in the city, where more of the arrests occurred? (Is this why I have been unable to find Grandpa’s family in the 1920 census? Were they afraid of being deported? Did they hide when the census taker came to their home?)

Dad’s grandparents never intended to come to America and settle in New York. His father’s parents’ final destination was Boston, and Grandma Rita’s parents’ plan was to continue on to Cleveland. For some reason, their plans changed, so Rita Schindler was able to meet Sam Bobrow in New York — close enough for me to meet Dad  twenty-five years later in New Jersey.

If Jamie had not lost her job here in South Carolina because of state-wide budget cuts, would she ever have met Geoff in New Jersey? So many accidents and acts of timing brought all these people together and caused some people to live rather than die. It really is quite mind boggling when you think about it.