Philosophy Politics Religion, Politics and Philosophy

On Immigration, Law and Family

Knowing the subject I am about to discuss to be a touchy one for a lot of folks out there, I will make a couple of important disclaimers.

To begin with, let me say that I know the United States of America to be a nation literally built by and on immigrants. Some of those “immigrants” were slaves, some not. All contributed greatly to the country we now know as the U.S.

Secondly, it’s important to realize that immigration is still a significant part of the U.S. There can be no denying that immigration has led to improvements and enhancements to the United States, nor would any sane person wish to attempt to imply such was the case.

Finally, we must distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. In fact, most of what is said in this post, will be based on the presupposition that we are talking about illegal immigration.

Legal immigration has its problems, but most of them are rooted in the fact that the system itself is broken (that—partially because of the illegal immigration problem the U.S. currently faces—the system is often far too hard on those attempting to legally enter the country, for example). Even so, the larger and more immediate problem in my view, is definitely illegal immigration. Without fixing illegal immigration, it is unreasonable to assume many fixes to legal immigration will occur.

Having issued my caveats, allow me now to say a couple of things that are significant.

There are parts of my family that are Hispanic. I find them to be no better or worse, by and large, than any other part of my family. Put simply, there are good, bad, and more often than not somewhere in between folks in that part of the family, just as with any other.

I can fairly make similar statements about the “Korean contingent” (my older two children being half Korean, I have, therefor, family that is Korean).

The only reason that I am more prone to talk about the Hispanic immigrant population more than pretty much any other, is that the U.S. is having its greatest problem with illegal Hispanic immigrants. This should not be a surprise, since a large part of the Americas is comprised of folks whose family origins are largely out of Spain and Portugal.

Anybody with any sense probably ought to realize that, if the population of the Americas in general were made up of a more diverse set of ethnicities, we would almost certainly see the same issues with more folks of those other ethnicities (there are arguments to the effect that this would not be the case, I refuse to even attempt to entertain them here). My reason for “laboring this point,” is to make it entirely clear that I have no belief that the reason we see so many Hispanic folks being “dealt with” where illegal immigration is concerned is not a matter of discrimination of some sort.

Am I saying no discrimination of that sort is happening? No. The reality is, there will always be people who will abuse systems in place to further their own agendas. And when such occurs, it must be dealt with.

The point though, is that Hispanic folks are generally not being targeted as a function or matter of discrimination, but as a matter of being the most numerous offenders of breach of immigration law. And again, this is true because of the large number of Hispanic folks in the Americas, as much as if not more than any other factor.

As usual though, one of my primary disagreements with some folks, is the appeal to emotion in order to try to justify the flouting of laws.

One excellent example can be found in statements like, “You know your uncle Olaf came to the U.S. illegally from Sweden, right? Don’t you love your uncle Olaf?”

On seeing such arguments, I replace “came to the U.S. Illegally from Sweden” with something like, “sold cocaine illegally,” or “robbed banks,” or “was a serial killer who killed seventeen people,” or even “made his ‘living’ breaking into the houses of the good citizens of (your city name here).”

The obvious question (to me at least) is, “Does the fact that I don’t support uncle Olaf in his commission of crimes mean that I don’t love uncle Olaf?”

Perhaps if I were a great deal younger or less experienced, I might have a hard time separating concerns, and as a result, answering this question. Since neither is true, that is not the case. Further, I doubt most folks would have a problem with answering the question either.

Uncle Olaf may well be a criminal, but he’s still my uncle and as such, it’s likely that I still love him. Does that mean I (if I’m sure uncle Olaf acted criminally) don’t want to “see justice done?” Perhaps regrettably for uncle Olaf, as a rule, no it does not. If Olaf “did the crime,” he probably should get ready to “do the associated time.” And if that means sitting in a jail cell, or being ferried back across the border, maybe I will go and visit him (assuming I am able). Regardless all else though, barring extenuating circumstances, if Olaf is guilty, as a rule, pay he must. That is, after all, the point of the “equal protection clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That is, that others will receive equal protection against Olaf’s criminal actions.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s dear uncle Olaf, or even dearer (and more directly in my lineage) Abuela Rosita, my interest ought to be in seeing laws enforced and justice done.

One quick additional thought. It’s entirely possible that Abuela Rosita came to the U.S. in circumstances that today, would be illegal. To begin with, that does not mean at the time she did so that was the case. Additionally, for pretty much every crime, there is a statute of limitations—a time after which, even if the crime is acknowledged to have occurred, no action will be taken. Further, in many instances, Abuela Rosita has long since passed on and is therefor no longer subject to “earthly laws.” Because this is true, it’s pretty much impossible to “go after” her.

Should others suffer as a result of her actions? They might do so, but not by intent of the law as a general matter.

Okay, as usual, more to say than “space” in which to say it. As such, let me bid you a fine day and thank you profusely for having read my little ramble.

Autism Related Health and Fitness Philosophy Religion, Politics and Philosophy

What, Again?

Before I get into the “meat” of this post, allow me to tell you just a little about myself.

To begin with, my training and credentials regarding Autism amount to zilch other than my experiences with a certain five-year-old named Garrett (and a few random encounters with other Autistic children and their parents, siblings and friends).

I decided to write this blog upon confirmation of my son’s Autism. My reasons were manifold, but among them were that I felt I might be able to give folks a picture of a day in the life of a daddy dealing with his (moderately) Autistic son. To be clear, Garrett can speak, and is not  “trapped within himself,” as appears to be the case with many who are apparently Autistic (I say apparently, because I’m pretty convinced Autism is not a single condition, and I’m not sure more severe supposed cases of Autism are the same thing as that with which I deal).

Okay, having made my disclaimers, allow me to continue.

I cannot speak for but a few people I have met who deal with Autism on a daily basis, but one of the things I can say with surety about my son, and have heard from others dealing with Autistic folks, is that in some regards, Autism looks an awful lot like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

To give you a picture of what I’m talking about, let me take you to multiple outings to the local Zoo.

First, we drive to the Zoo (a relatively short distance). Next, we make our way through the gate, this can be between five minutes and an hour—and no, it doesn’t just depend on the throng pressing the gates. You see, Garrett may “need to” go around the giraffe sculptures at the front gate an unknowable amount of times. He may need to play with the water fountain. He may need to hide multiple times, under a table.

About now, you’re probably thinking, “Just your average three to five year old.” That’s where you would be mistaken. I’m sure you have had your four year old “pitch a fit” when you tried to get him or her to actually enter some place like the Zoo when he or she is “not ready.” With Garrett though, for a long time, he was not ready every time he went to a given place. And he would “pitch that fit” every time you tried to get him to go into that place when he “wasn’t ready.”

In fact, because of the tendency towards resistance to change on the part of my Autistic little boy, I’m having to give you the “abridged version.” I won’t go into detail on how it took me an hour or more to convince him to get into clothes, comb his hair, or get out the door. I’ll just barely tell you that he had to play for half an hour outside before I could convince him to get into a car seat. And for each event there was a “risk of meltdown” if I didn’t do things in very specific ways.

On with our journey! Now it’s time to run like a little madman for a while (yes, much like many kids that age) until we find our next repetitive activity.

Daddy chases as Garrett leads to the pavilion in the Zoo with its many purposes. Our purpose here? To open and shut that outer door until we are satisfied we have done it enough times, of course! We open, shut, open, go through, shut until we decide it is time to move on. There is variation, but for this hour and a half, it is about pretty much all about variations on opening and closing the door. I’m not exaggerating here, it could be fifteen minutes, it could be two hours, but on average, it’s an hour and a half bare minimum.

You can be assured, by the way, that daddy making me leave this pursuit is grounds for a major meltdown unless he does so in just the right fashion. The funny thing is though, daddy pretty much never tries to make Garrett abandon such an activity except against need. Why? Because he has a suspicion—a hunch, if you will—upon which he is working.

He is, over the course of time, well rewarded for that hunch, and letting the boy have his way. You see, in the course of time, the need to do such things, has decreased drastically. This is true to the point that, by this time of life, Garrett is far more prone to appear to many, like a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, than one with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And every so often (increasing also over the course of time), is a tendency toward balance. That place on the “razor’s edge” that a few people (maybe more than I account) find, in which, they are neither obsessed with a given thing, nor so flighty that they look entirely hyperactive and appear to have no attention span.

A part of the process, is daddy working to find “motivators”—things that will cause me to move on, to be interested in things other than those about which I obsess.

You could say there are two “natures challenging one another” in Garrett. The first is that resistance to change that leads to OCD-like behavior, the second is the need to see and “order” (after his own “picture of reality”) the many things about him. Does anybody really understand the “drivers?” I would argue that it is entirely doubtful. I would argue that even an Autistic person is unable to do that.

Keep in mind, the picture I have just painted is not a “complete portrait” of what it “looks like from the outside,” when observing a person with Autism. And as a matter of “light at the end of the tunnel” for some reading this, it is not (if care is taken, and maybe even if not) a “final destination.” Just as with any other child, the child with Autism will grow, and hopefully, will change into something more like what you expect to see.

As is often the case with things about which I greatly enjoy writing, I have “reached my word and time limit” on this far before I was ready so to do.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Have a wonderful day!

Autism Related Health and Fitness

About Garrett, Autism and Their Intersection

Finally, a chance to add to my blog on a more significant subject than even the ones with which I have been prone to deal.

What brings about this change? It’s the acknowledgement by a member of the medical community (as well as the local  school system) that my son (Garrett) is Autistic (and very possibly mildly ADHD).

In terms of Autism (as much as I don’t like the term, on the basis that I believe it talks about a true spectrum not just of symptoms, but of conditions), he is “Level 2 on a scale of 1 to 3.”

What does that mean to me and mine? Not much! We were already acutely aware that he was dealing with some condition we assumed to be Autism (literally, since he was around 18 months old, and he is now five, fairly soon to be six). The result is, Lisa and I have been “coping” with it in our own ways.

In Lisa’s case, it has been to learn as much as she has been able, as well as to try to find effective ways to deal with the uniqueness that is our boy.

For me, it has mostly been about doing what I was sure would yield desired results, modifying my approach when I saw that things were not working entirely as desired.

I haven’t decided whether adding a blog category (or set of them) will result in just a few, or quite a few blog posts. That being said, I can assure you I’ve more than a few things to say.

As a quick aside, the “Level 2 diagnosis” basically means Garrett is “special needs,” but not non-verbal or largely excessive in his behavior (so, doesn’t sit in a corner rocking, entirely unable to reconcile the world around himself).

Those who know Garrett to any extent are aware that he is an odd, but wonderful little boy. His quirks take some getting used to, but if you really get to know him (unless he takes a dislike to you that you cannot “fix,” which is not terribly common), you will find an adventurous, curious, happy little boy to be the person with whom you are dealing.

Those who know me, know well that I am far from displeased or disappointed with my boy. He is a great young man with what I believe to be a wonderful—if difficult—future.

In fact, as much as I love my other children (and you can be assured that I love them all), I find Garrett to so far be the greatest challenge while at the same time being the greatest reward.

As with all of my blog entries, I am going to work to keep them inside my self imposed thousand word limit. I know it’s hard enough for most folks to take the time to read even that few words, certainly much harder, more words than that.

This blog entry is designed to be an “introduction,” but at the same time, it is an opportunity for me to say some things that have been on my mind for quite a few more years than my son has been on the planet.

Firstly, I have resisted creating a blog about this subject until such time as official confirmation was “handed down from on high,” as it were. I have been eagerly awaiting this day, not because I could say I had an Autistic son (that would be true, diagnosis aside), but because the official confirmation of that situation on multiple fronts means that I can speak without being quite so easily labeled an “outsider.”

I know, I know, there are those who have been dealing with Autism for a great deal longer than have I. More importantly, I am still a “bystander” in every important sense, since (though I may well be mildly Autistic myself), I have never been diagnosed as being anywhere on the spectrum. That means I can only talk about dealing with Autism “from the outside,” but that’s just fine with me.

I also know that, even if I accept that Autism is one thing (and I have already stated that I don’t), there are considered to be “levels,” and I can only talk with any assurance, from the perspective of someone dealing with the second of three levels (meaning there may be marked differences in dealing with severe or truly mild Autism).

When you add to that the fact that I don’t believe Autism is one thing, it should be obvious that I expect everyone dealing with Autism to cast a critical eye on what I say (and with absolutely the best of reasons).

One thing I have been pretty much bursting to say, is that Autistic people need and want love and affection to the same degree as (if not more than), people not dealing with Autism. Put another way, the concept that care, attention, affection, indeed love is not significant because of the apparent inability of the person diagnosed with Autism to comprehend or express them in the same ways “normal” people do, is—in my humble opinion—pretty much hogwash.

My son went from seemingly being able to express emotion, to seemingly being unable to do so. In the course of time though, being unrelenting in our affection towards him, appears to have helped him to be able do so again.

Am I saying all people labelled Autistic will magically gain or regain that ability? Not at all! What I am saying though, is that I can scarcely imagine them not appreciating a supportive, loving environment. And even if they don’t appreciated it, it doesn’t somehow make it without benefit or merit.

Another thing I think needs said is this. When you’re dealing with an Autistic person, you’re likely to find them standoffish, aloof, maybe downright cold or—seemingly, if not actually—disinterested. Does this mean you ought not try to cultivate a relationship? Not at all! Consider their feelings. Think about what you would feel like if someone else treated you as you treat them, and modify your approach to them accordingly.

One last thing as I’m already over my self imposed word count.

You may believe that an Autistic individual will never be able to function in the world (or even understand what you’re saying about or to them), this is a mistake you can never afford to make. To begin with, in doing so, it is highly likely you are “shortchanging” the individual. As well, you may well do damage that it may take a very long time to undo. I have worked hard to earn and keep my son’s trust, that’s no accident.

Okay, having gone substantially “over my limit,” allow me to wish you the best of days, and to thank you for reading.