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Sunday, January 29th, 2017

My grandmother was a young teenager  in 1911 when she sailed, alone, past the Statue of Liberty into New York harbor. She was fleeing her homeland at her mother’s insistence: her father had been murdered in his bed, in front of his family, by an angry mob — murdering Jews was a frequent public sport in eastern Europe, as lynching African-Americans was in the southern U.S. My grandmother’s mother feared for my grandmother’s safety: she was the oldest child, she was in the public eye because she was a Jew attending the local Christian girls school.

My granny made her long slow way from Vilna in Lithuania to Hamburg, where she found passage, steerage, in a ship bound for New York. And when she sailed past the Statue, she knew she was safe, that whatever trials lay ahead, no one would try to murder her for her religion.

The obscenity perpetrated on January 28 by the current U.S. regime puts the lie to my granny’s sense of security. This sense had already been challenged in the 1930’s, when the U.S. denied entry to her mother and sisters: they were murdered, down to the smallest infant. On January 28, her refuge was completely dismantled.

The current White House incumbent, having no sense either of law or history, has separated families of people whose lives were in danger in their home countries. He has made a travesty of American ideals of justice and liberty. I spent a good part of this morning weeping for the murder of my country’s ideals, but it is afternoon and I am trying to act.

It is a hard and lengthy process to get a green card – from 18 months to decades – and once obtained, it must be renewed on a regular basis. Throughout the process the applicant does not know the status of the application until completion. Although you need not have been here for any specific number of years to apply for a green card, the card is “conditional” for 2 years. (You must be here for at least 5 years before applying for citizenship.) To apply, you must:

  • Be in the U.S. legally, either on a student visa or a work visa;
  • Have a sponsor;
  • Be vetted by Immigration and Customs in a thorough security check;
  • Undergo blood and medical exams, interviews and language proficiency tests (even when English is the applicant’s first language);

If you are here illegally, either because you outstayed your tourist visa, or because you came in undocumented, obtaining a green card may prove difficult unless:

  • You are the immediate relative of a US citizen (parent, spouse or minor);
  • You married a US citizen, having come on a tourist visa or visa waiver and (although specifically intending to get married and stay on such a visa would be considered fraudulent and make you ineligible);
  • As an overstay, you may qualify if “grandfathered” under a provision of the law known as INA section 245(i), which allows individuals “out of status” to pay a penalty fee and proceed with the application.

For refugee status, the bar is even higher.

Yet the regime is turning away green cardholders and refugees, causing pain, chaos and great fear.

The upshot is likely to be an increase in terrorism, not a reduction, and this is quite likely what the regime wants — the more fear they can sow in the U.S., the more the citizens will acquiesce in their extreme actions.

In the meantime, while the Statue and I and millions like me weep, Canada is welcoming all U.S. green cardholders. I am grateful to the Canadians, but I am deeply ashamed.

Here at home, the ACLU and the American Immigration Lawyers Association stepped up to provide pro bono legal support to people who had been detained by Homeland Security at airports around the country. If  you have any money to give, please provide support to these organizations as they try to keep us a country of laws and justice.


(With thanks for their input and clarifications on the green card process to:  Judy Resnick, Erin Mitchell, Pamela Potter, Cajsa C. Baldini, Sylvia Titgemeyer, Aimee Hix, DavidLori Flemming and Karyn Rotker. )


Important note: The information contained on this post does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. It is based on the best information I have but I am not a lawyer; please contact an attorney if you require legal advice on immigration, green card, refugee, asylum or any other immigration problem.

Grant Park, Chicago, January 21, 2017

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Grant Park, Looking West Jan 21 2017

21 January 2017
Sara Paretsky – Grant Park

I am almost 70. I have been an activist for Civil Rights and Reproductive Rights since I was 19, and there are days when I am weary with the struggle, but not today, not here, with 250,000 other Americans ready to work together to protect our rights.

I was twenty-five when the Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade. I can still remember the exhilaration of seeing that headline in the old Chicago Daily News.
For a brief, glorious moment, we had forced open a window, allowing us to breathe in freedom: we were no longer children, or chattel animals. Our sexuality was no longer controlled by husbands, fathers, churches, governments: we could decide whether and when to get pregnant. We could decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term.

Sara Paretsky speaking Jan 21 2017

Almost instantly furious hands began pushing that window shut. As had happened nine years earlier with the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, those who feared what free African-Americans looked like, those who feared free women, fought back.
The culmination of the war against human rights was celebrated yesterday in our nation’s capital.

I stand here today with wildly mixed feelings. It’s energizing to see so many people, especially so many young people, gathering to take up the fight for freedom.

One of 250000 strong January 21 2017

At the same time, I am filled with a rage so large that ordinary words don’t express it. Not because of the incoming groper-in-chief –although I fear and despise him, he doesn’t rouse my fury.
My rage comes from standing here as part of a minority. 58 percent of European-Americans – 53 percent of women, 62 percent of men — voted to put this new government in place. I am with the 42 percent who voted for human rights.
Yes, there was Comey, and Putin,and Pizzagate, but they didn’t fool African-American (92 percent of voters( or Hispanic (66) or Jewish (77) voters.
58 percent of European Americans voted to defund Planned Parenthood and to privatize Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. 58 percent want everyone to drink the water that has flowed from Flint, Michigan’s taps. 58 percent want to deport Mexicans and to bar Muslims from entering our country. 58 percent voted to destabilize the Atlantic alliance, and to re-accelerate the arms race.
58 percent want all women and African-American men to retreat from personhood, back to the status of children or chattel animals.

For over four decades, those of us passionate about our freedoms have been trying to waken our friends and neighbors to the way state, local and national politicians were threatening our rights. Our words and pleas went unheeded. And the result is a Congress, a president, and many state governments bent on destroying the planet and reversing voting rights, civil rights, reproductive rights.

Sara with women’s bookstore creators Ann Christophersen and Barb Wieser

Now it is up to us, those of us gathered here in Chicago, those gathered in cities all over the planet, to go once more into battle for our freedoms.
We here are passionate about our Constitution. Our Constitution exists “to promote the general welfare.” Not the welfare of the one percent, but every person’s welfare. Our Constitution exists “to secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
So let us go forth from this park, and from parks all across the nation, to fight again for this country and Constitution that we love. Let us secure the blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity. In the words of the two people who will always be my presidents: We are Stronger Together, and YES, WE CAN!!


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January 2017