Our VoiceImmigration

Holiday Cheer and a New Year

James E. Johnson Jr. • Dec 28, 2009

I just love this time of the year. It’s not just the beautiful lights, or the great food, not even the gifts. For me it has always been the time we most celebrated family. On Christmas Eve and Christmas our family was all together and the ones who were not there physically were close by phone. My father’s birthday is Dec. 26 which was always a celebration and is now a remembrance. My baby sister, who is not only the youngest but also the only girl, was born on Dec. 28, today. Happy Birthday Muffet. Yes it is all about family.

This year my fiancé, Lisa and I are blessed by the fact it is the first Christmas season we have had both her son and my daughter here in our home for the holidays, as I said it is all about family. This has been a very special Christmas that has brought joy and happiness to our home.

The other thing I love about this time of the year are the tear-jerking movies we watch. Of course every year I cry when Clarence gets his wings, I know it is coming but it gets me every time.

However, with all the joy and happiness there were two sobering movies we watched this year.

The first was ‘Nothing Like the Holidays’ a great film about a Latino family celebrating Christmas in Chicago. The movie itself was a wonderful look into the life of a family during the holiday season. Everyone comes home for Christmas, which makes for interesting situations as family members find themselves and each other. What made it my movie is the fact that it was filmed in the part of Chicago where I met, Elvira Arellano who was given sanctuary in the neighborhood where the movies was filmed. Unfortunately, Elvira was deported to Mexico a few months after our meeting. Even though her son is a U. S. citizen and she had worked and contributed to her community she was deemed unworthy to remain in this country she loves.

Elvira did everything that it takes to be a U. S. citizen. She worked hard, helped to educate her child, contributed to her community and paid taxes. She is everything that we look for in a neighbor, a community member and a citizen.

The second was ‘The Blind Side’ a nice little film about, Michael Oher, the 23rd pick of the 2009 NFL draft. Michael grew up in Memphis without a family until he was brought under the roof of the Tuohy family who help him to become a great student athlete. While Michael was a good person he had not had the chance to succeed in life. Under the right circumstance Michael was not only able to achieve but was able to excel at football and life. The part of the movie that many people may have missed or not attached much significance, was where Michael wanted to get a driver license and was unable to prove he was who he said he was.

According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, 8.9% of U. S. born Blacks on any given day cannot prove their citizenship. This means that nearly one in every ten U. S. born Black citizens can be turned down for jobs. They can be denied government benefit such as Social Security, Food Stamps, in-state college tuition, Medicaid or Medicare.

The final thing that makes this season different from the rest of the year is that it is the end and the beginning. It is a time to reflect on your life and make resolutions for the New Year and the future. This year instead of starting with what is wrong with me and needs fixing, I started with what I like about me and need to do more of. Because I love cooking and eating I will prepare at least 156 different meals in 2010.

I am hoping that in the coming year we as a country will look at what makes us special and adjust our immigration laws. Let us ensure that those who come here to make a better life for themselves and their families, while helping to improve their communities, are treated like neighbors and friends and given the chance to not just achieve, but to excel. May they know the ring of freedom, because every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings.

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