Immigration not ingratiation

Amidst all the scandals there is this little bill being proposed that I hear rumors has something to do with immigration.  Now, if I am to believe my betters; this bill will be great for the country and pave the way for common sense to prevail in the legalized immigration to the USA.  It is also touted as most things desired by Republicans (note I didn’t say conservatives) and many things desired by Democrats.  No one gets everything, but everyone can declare victory as their side gets a big piece.  Win – Win if you will.

My problem with that, is I CAN READ.

Not to mention I see who is on the committee and I see who is bending over and who is running the pile driver and that is THROUGH the filter of the MSM.

Oh and the little thing of, we can’t show you the bill.  It isn’t done yet.  Sounds like a slightly under the radar version of the Pelosi line to me.

I will be perfectly blunt here.  I don’t give $.02 about the feelings of illegal immigrants.  They don’t get a vote (well, legally anyway).  I don’t care if the Republican party is seen as the bad guy by the Hispanic voters.  They don’t vote Republican now and giving them a bill they don’t want isn’t going to change that.  I don’t believe in buying votes.  Be that with legislation or with plain ole cash.

Immigration reform is needed.  Of that there is no doubt.  We need a path to citizenship for people who were born American, but though happenstance were born outside of our borders.  I know many such people.  People who yearn to be free of the yoke of European Socialism, free to express their opinions, free to make the country better as they better themselves.  People who yearn to have the protections of our Bill of Rights and want the opportunity to have the fruits of their labor reward them, not the guy with the biggest militia.   People who already speak English (or are learning), have an education, have valuable skills and contribute to a society that wants them and their talents.

I am going to tell you a story that I hope will illustrate who I am talking about.  For a period of about 10 years, I lived in NYC.  I was a cook (becoming a Chef) at the time and figured I should work with the best to hone my trade.  In one of the jobs I had in NYC, I worked with a man who was born in Africa.  To be clear, this man was BLACK.  By that, I mean he was no Afrikaaner.  He was as native of one of the tribes, and you will have to forgive me as it has been a while and I don’t remember the particulars of which tribe and all those details.  The rest of the story is indelibly imprinted in my brain, to the point of smudging some of the details I did not see as important at the time.

I worked with Mahamoudou for about three months before I learned his story.  I was a fresh graduate from cooking school and he was an experienced cook who enjoyed working the cold line in the restaurant we worked at.  Four of us shared this job, the restaurant was open for lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch.  So I did not work with Mahomoudou all the time, but our schedules intersected quite often.  He was a very hard worker, fairly quiet and did not participate in the work place drama politics.  He and I got along quite well after he helped me to figure out the particulars of the job and found that I was very willing to do my part.  As a union house, we had one severe slacker.  We had our own little section of the small NYC kitchen and in our slower times, we would talk.

Mahamoudou was not much on talking about the past.  I knew he was a native of Africa and that he had lived in the United States for about 12 years.  He enjoyed restaurant work and had worked his way up from being a dishwasher and helper in a large Chinese restaurant to being a hot line cook, but he preferred garde manger.  The job we shared in this French Restaurant.

I knew he spoke his native language as well as French from where he was born.  He also spoke moderately good Cantonese as well as pretty good Spanish and excellent English.  He would normally bring a book with him for the subway commute.  These books were never in English, usually in French.  I asked him about this once.  He replied that all the people in the restaurant spoke English and Spanish and he didn’t want people to know what he was reading.  Seemed odd, but no more so than things I do, so I let it slide.

Our kitchen was in the basement of a building and the garde manger area was the first station at the end of the entry ramp for the deliveries.  Although it wasn’t an official duty of ours, we usually checked in deliveries of the basics or got the Chef for special things.  As such, we interacted with the delivery guys much more than most other people.  On one particular day, Mahamoudou and I were working when a delivery came.  I was closer, so I gave it the once over and noticed a few things that were not normal orders and a few things I though might be wrong or substandard quality.  I told the delivery driver (who happened to be an American Black) that I needed to get the Chef to review this order and I would be right back.  He groused about being behind schedule as I walked off, then started mumbling something to Mahamoudou.  I didn’t quite catch what was being said as I walked off.

I returned about a minute later to find the normally quiet and relaxed Mahamoudou lecturing the delivery driver in quite animated tones.  Shocked, I sat back to see what had gotten to my partner.

I gathered that the delivery driver had made a snide comment about “whitey”  always gotta keep a black man down, expecting agreement.  When he didn’t get it, he upped the ante and began talking about how slavery was the white man’s dream and how America was set up for the white man to exploit the black man…  Mahamoudou listened for about the minute I was gone, then launched into his tirade.  He was so animated that the delivery driver seemed like he might bolt without getting the delivery signed for.

After about two minutes of severe dressing down of the delivery guy, the Chef showed up and my partner swallowed his anger.  The delivery was squared away and the driver ran out quickly.

Mahamoudou waited for the Chef to leave, then apologized to me for letting his anger get to him.  This led to a long conversation over our next three shifts.

I told you all that so I can tell you his story.

Mahamoudou was born in a western coastal African country.  I believe it was either Sierra Leone or Gold Coast.  He lived through the political unrest and Coups of the 1970’s.  He was member of a fairly well to do family in the early 70’s, but his family was on the wrong side of the political battle and he was in a minority tribe that was closely associated with the out of favor (read as anti-dictator) political group.

Using one of the Coup’s as an excuse, the political party in power decided to clean house.  Many of the leaders and thinkers of opposition groups were murdered over a few week period.  Mahamoudou’s father was one of the thinkers and was loosely affiliated with policy decisions of a major opposition party.  On the first night his home was raided.  His family was assembled and bound in their courtyard. This was done so they would be forced to witness the murder of their patriarch by machete.  After the slow brutal murder, the family was  warned not to touch or bury the body.  It was to be left as a testament to opposing the rightful ruler of the country.

His mother followed that order, but immediately began preparing the family for flight.  Under the cover of the next night, she gathered her sons, some food and whatever else she thought might be needed to aid in their escape.  They buried their husband / father then dodging roving bands of soldiers, the family stole out of their home and began the trek towards the sea and a promised ship to freedom.

At first they fled to a home of extended family.  They fled on foot and once their disappearance was noticed, the governmental pursuit began.  The second night, they spent with a relative only to see the house surrounded and burned to the ground a few minutes after they slipped out.  His mother decided she would not bring death to her relatives, so they traveled cross country and found their own shelter away from towns from then on.

His older brothers managed to acquire a few guns for self defense the next day as they continued to skulk towards freedom.  This proved to be fortuitous as, the following day a group of soldiers recognized the family crossing a road.  As they ran for the cover of the brush, the eldest brother stayed behind as a rear guard.  This bought the rest of the family time to make their escape.

This tragic method of escape played itself out many times over the next week.  Each time an elder son bought freedom with their own blood.  Mahamoudou lost 3 brothers and finally his mother to this horrible attrition.  Then it was just one brother and himself.  His remaining brother passed to him a backpack with the rest of the families food and valuables.  He stated, we will not both make it and even if we do, we no longer have money for both of us to buy passage.  I will lead them away from you.  Go to America and be free.  Perhaps someday, you can visit our graves once our country is free.

Now, very much a man at the ripe old age of 15, he did as his brother bid.  He managed to find the ship and buy his way aboard.  The ship sailed away from the coast.  Mahamoudou didn’t relate to me the trials of the voyage other than to say it was very overcrowded and more than a few people were left on the beach.  He never saw or heard from that brother again.

Mahamoudou is more of an American than most people I know.  He was born in another country.  A country that did not want him and showed that to him in a very dramatic fashion.  With some luck and help from some pro bono lawyers, he received a political visa, then did everything he needed to do to become a citizen.  He worked 80+ hours a week in various restaurants to make the money to survive and to pay for his citizenship path.  He came here not speaking a word of English and actually learned Cantonese first as the Chinese were the only ones who would hire him.  He was determined to succeed and had no safety net to fall back on.  He did what it took to succeed and to honor his family’s sacrifice.

That man is what I see when I look in my mental dictionary under what it means to be an American.

The Tree of Liberty must periodically be fed by the blood of patriots.  I firmly believe that the blood of Mahamoudou’s family fed the Tree of Liberty even though they never set foot in America.  They fought for freedom and in doing so laid the foundation for a man that is more American than most I know.  I also know that they helped to change me and make me a better American.

These are the people we need.  These are the people America should beallowing  begging to join our country.  These are the people who should be allowed through a VERY secure border.  I don’t see this as even being on the radar for this farce of a negotiation / immigration reform.

Mahamoudou loves this country and he knows the perils of gerrymandering the political process.  All to well does he know that route.  I was not smart enough to stay in touch with him when I moved on to another job, but I feel safe in saying he would be glad to see the brief version of his story used to show what America can be.  Don’t get me wrong, he would be embarrassed by the spotlight; but glad to know that he is not the only one who knows that he is a true American and so were his family that died to get him here. I am also confident that he would not stand for the ingratiation our current leaders overlords seem bent on.

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Filed under Dirty Pool, politics, silly politicians

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