My take on the “Zero Tolerance Policy”

This subject makes me so angry, that I cannot find the words at times to express my outrage.

You probably heard that the Trump Administration enacted a policy by where folks coming from Central American countries fleeing gang violence and corruption to seek asylum in the US are being arrested and their children sent to detainment centers for Lord knows how long.

Imagine young children being forcibly taken from their parents and placed into “tender care centers” (infants to age 13), or detainment centers (for some as young as 6, to as old as 17), separated by gender.

The Department of Homeland Security has released photos and videos of the inside two of the facilities. They would not allow the few journalists they invited to take their own photos and video, or talk to the kids being held there.

By some reports, children held in these facilities are only allowed outside for two hours a day, under armed guards. The other twenty two hours they are inside, again under armed guards, where they supposedly are fed, clothed, educated, and taken care of. And, they’ve only shown where boys are being held. Where are the facilities for girls and why have we not seen them?

Trump keeps repeating the same lie that it’s the Democrats law. Zero Tolerance is not a law, it’s a policy that just went into effect in April, and Trump refuses to own it. He blames everyone under the sun except himself (as is his m.o.).

At a press conference, Attorney General Jeff Sessions even quoted the Bible, saying that you must obey the laws because God preordained the laws. Since when did this country enact a Divine right to rule?

They didn’t. Because the founding fathers rejected such.

Sessions is now being brought up on charges of child abuse by the United Methodist Church, of which he is a member.

Other Administration members totally support this cruel policy: press secretary Sarah Sanders; Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Neilsen; Ambassador to the UN Haley; presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway; and though we have not really heard from Vice President Mike Pence, he supports it as well.

Trump has the power to stop this evil insanity, but won’t. In my opinion, he’s using this policy and the people affected by it, as a bargaining chip so he can get his damn wall built (you know, the one he said that Mexico would pay for).

As to the argument that Democrats passed a law in 1997 allowing this, and why now is Trump being criticized for it, I’ve read an excellent explanation online. It was posted by a woman named Karen Brown, passing on information by a professor at Cal State Fullerton, Michelle Martin, Ph.D.

Have you heard that children were separated from their parents under Obama & Clinton? Then, you need a little Facts vs Myths lesson. Michelle Martin, PhD Cal State Fullerton summed up the most important FACTS:

There is so much misinformation out there about the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy that requires criminal prosecution, which then warrants the separating of parents and children at the border. Before responding to a post defending this policy, please do your research…As a professor at a local Cal State, I research and write about these issues, so here, I’ll make it easier for you:

Myth: This is not a new policy and was practiced under Obama and Clinton – FALSE. The policy to separate parents and children is new and was instituted on 4/6/2018. It was the brainchild of John Kelly and Stephen Miller to serve as a deterrent for undocumented immigration, approved by Trump, and adopted by Sessions. Prior administrations detained migrant families, but didn’t have a practice of forcibly separating parents from their children unless the adults were deemed unfit. https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1049751/download?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Myth: This is the only way to deter undocumented immigration – FALSE. Annual trends show that arrests for undocumented entry are at a 46 year low, and undocumented crossings dropped in 2007, with a net loss (more people leaving than arriving). Deportations have increased steadily though (spiking in 1996 and more recently), because several laws that were passed since 1996 have made it legally more difficult to gain legal status for people already here, and thus increased their deportations (I address this later under the myth that it’s the Democrats’ fault). What we mostly have now are people crossing the border illegally because they’ve already been hired by a US company, or because they are seeking political asylum. Economic migrants come to this country because our country has kept the demand going. But again, many of these people impacted by Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy appear to be political asylum-seekers. https://www.npr.org/2017/12/05/568546381/arrests-for-illegal-border-crossings-hit-46-year-low

Myth: Most of the people coming across the border are just trying to take advantage of our country by taking our jobs – FALSE. Most of the parents who have been impacted by Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy have presented themselves as political asylum-seekers at a U.S. port-of-entry, from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Rather than processing their claims, they have been taken into custody on the spot and had their children ripped from their arms. The ACLU alleges that this practice violates the Asylum Act, and the UN asserts that it violates the UN Treaty on the State of Refugees, one of the few treaties the US has ratified. This is an illegal act on the part of the United States government, not to mention morally and ethically reprehensible. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/21/us/meatpackers-profits-hinge-on-pool-of-immigrant-labor.html

Myth: We’re a country that respects the Rule of Law, and if people break the law, this is what they get – FALSE. We are a country that has an above-ground system of immigration and an underground system. Our government (under both parties) has always been aware that US companies recruit workers in the poorest parts of Mexico for cheap labor, and ICE (and its predecessor INS) has looked the other way because this underground economy benefits our country to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Thus, even though the majority of people crossing the border now are asylum-seekers, those who are economic migrants (migrant workers) likely have been recruited here to do jobs Americans will not do. https://www.upi.com/Top_News/Opinion/2016/10/26/Donald-Trumps-wall-ignores-the-economic-logic-of-undocumented-immigrant-labor/2621477498203/

Myth: The children have to be separated from their parents because there parents must be arrested and it would be cruel to put children in jail with their parents – FALSE. First, in the case of economic migrants crossing the border illegally, criminal prosecution has not been the legal norm, and families have been kept together at all cost. Also, crossing the border without documentation is a typically a misdemeanor not requiring arrest, but rather a civil proceeding. Additionally, parents who have been detained have historically been detained with their children in ICE “family residential centers,” again, for civil processing. The Trump administration’s shift in policy is for political purposes only, not legal ones. See p. 18: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/ms-l-v-ice-plaintiffs-opposition-defendants-motion-dismiss-doc-56

Myth: We have rampant fraud in our asylum process the proof of which is the significant increase we have in the number of people applying for asylum. FALSE. The increase in asylum seekers is a direct result of the increase in civil conflict and violence across the globe. While some people may believe that we shouldn’t allow any refugees into our country because “it’s not our problem,” neither our current asylum law, nor our ideological foundation as a country support such an isolationist approach. There is very little evidence to support Sessions’ claim that abuse of our asylum-seeking policies is rampant. Also, what Sessions failed to mention is that the majority of asylum seekers are from China, not South of the border. Here is a very fair and balanced assessment of his statements: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/oct/19/jeff-sessions/jeff-sessions-claim-about-asylum-system-fraudulent/

Myth: The Democrats caused this, “it’s their law.” FALSE. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats caused this, the Trump administration did (although the Republicans could fix this today, and have refused). I believe what this myth refers to is the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which were both passed under Clinton in 1996. These laws essentially made unauthorized entry into the US a crime (typically a misdemeanor for first-time offenders), but under both Republicans and Democrats, these cases were handled through civil deportation proceedings, not a criminal proceeding, which did not require separation. And again, even in cases where detainment was required, families were always kept together in family residential centers, unless the parents were deemed unfit (as mentioned above). Thus, Trump’s assertion that he hates this policy but has no choice but to separate the parents from their children, because the Democrats “gave us this law” is false and nothing more than propaganda designed to compel negotiation on bad policy. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-democrats-us-border-migrant-families-children-parents-mexico-separate-a8401521.html

Myth: The parents and children will be reunited shortly, once the parents’ court cases are finalized. FALSE. Criminal court is a vastly different beast than civil court proceedings. Also, the children are being processed as unaccompanied minors (“unaccompanied alien children”), which typically means they are sent into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). Under normal circumstances when a child enters the country without his or her parent, ORR attempts to locate a family member within a few weeks, and the child is then released to a family member, or if a family member cannot be located, the child is placed in a residential center (anywhere in the country), or in some cases, foster care. Prior to Trump’s new policy, ORR was operating at 95% capacity, and they simply cannot effectively manage the influx of 2000+ children, some as young as 4 months. Also, keep in mind, these are not unaccompanied minor children, they have parents. There is great legal ambiguity on how and even whether the parents will get their children back because we are in uncharted territory right now. According to the ACLU lawsuit (see below), there is currently no easy vehicle for reuniting parents with their children. Additionally, according to a May 2018 report, numerous cases of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were found to have occurred in these residential centers. https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-obtains-documents-showing-widespread-abuse-child-immigrants-us-custody

Myth: This policy is legal. LIKELY FALSE. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on 5/6/18, and a recent court ruling denied the government’s motion to dismiss the suit. The judge deciding the case stated that the Trump Administration policy is “brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.” The case is moving forward because it was deemed to have legal merit. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-07/aclu-suit-over-child-separations-at-border-may-proceed-judge

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Stef’s (mis)adventures at Oklahoma Heart Hospital, part 2

Four days ago (or June 5, 2018 if you’re reading this 2 years from now), I had an angiogram to see if my breathing issues were related to any heart abnormalities I might have.

The day before all this, I got a phone call to follow up on the instructions I was mailed 2 weeks earlier. Those were:

  • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight
  • Shower with antibacterial soap
  • Be at the hospital at 11am for check in
  • Bring someone with me because I might be too loopy afterwards from the anesthesia I’d be given (thanks, Jeff!)

So we get there at the appointed time, and I have paperwork to fill out. Jeff gets a buzzer (like the kind they give you at restaurants).

I’m taken to a room in the day patient ward, where I’m given a gown, and instructions to undress completely. They gave me slipper socks to wear. Then they take my vitals and some blood.

Every time someone new came into my room, they asked for my name and date of birth. That got a little tedious, but I understand why they do it.

Jeff was allowed to come back to my room until it was time to go have the procedure done. The cardiologist came in to explain what he was going to be doing, that the anesthesia wouldn’t completely knock me out, but i wouldn’t remember anything about the procedure being done.

And I didn’t. I remember before and after, but during I was blissfully unaware.

They put the catheter in my wrist instead of my groin (a nurse even checked if I’d needed to be shaved. I didn’t.), and was given instructions for after care.

Since I had to stay for several hours after the procedure was done to make sure the place they’d put the catheter didn’t bleed, I got to order lunch.

They have excellent food at OHH, by the way.

When it was determined that i could go home, Jeff called Daniel to come pick us up. As soon as I got home, i asked for mac n cheese, then took a long nap.

And there’s nothing wrong with my heart!

So the search for the cause of my breathing issues goes on.

Wee.

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I’m Stef, and this is where it’s @ ~!

Memorial day 2018

This is the edited version of a post I originally posted on Facebook 2 years ago and reposted last year. In light of current events, it needs to be posted again this year. But instead of on Facebook, I’m posting it here.

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Just in case you thought this was only about a 3 day weekend. It’s not.

Many people fought and died for you to live in a free land and say whatever stupid nonsense you wish. To carry your guns around. To protest about something that means something to you. To disagree with your neighbor, best friend, a total stranger about the current political climate; or not.

To take a knee. Or not.

Those who died defending YOUR freedom did not die so that patriotism could be forced upon you. Because that’s not patriotism.

I will express my patriotism as I see fit, and not how the NFL, the GOP, or the president sees fit.

Because it’s not really about parades and barbecues and three days off.

Remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country free. This weekend is really about them. Some people tend to forget that part.

Because freedom ISN’T free.
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Now, before some of you rake me over the coals about the above, take a moment and really think about what you’re going to say. It is going to be worth losing my friendship over? Some of you just can’t agree to disagree. You have to be right, which means you think I am wrong. You have your opinion, and I have mine. If you don’t allow me the same luxury you yourself enjoy, then what’s the point? Aren’t we all Americans? With the same rights? When did that change? Spoiler alert: IT DIDN’T!

And now, back to your regularly scheduled holiday weekend.

Stef’s (mis)adventures at Oklahoma Heart Hospital

My cardiologist (referred by my PCP) sent me to get a stress test and a echocardiogram to find out why I’m still having trouble breathing.

This was a two day affair, and when I was done, was told that I’d get the results the following week.

They called the next day.

Now I have to get an angiogram.

I was told that a small defect had been found, which is why I need the angiogram.

So I’ve been walking around for over 50 years with a slight heart defect and had no clue? How the hell is that possible? I honestly thought they’d tell me my problems were due to my low blood pressure, and how I get lightheaded while standing (Spoiler alert: my BP drops). But to have an actual heart problem scares me.

I think I liked just having liver problems.

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I’m Stef and this is where it’s @ !~

Well guess what..?

Turns out I’m going to be a grandma in late December/early January.

I was not at my best when Scott and Sarah came over to tell me.

We have something to tell you, they said.

I looked at Sarah and asked, you’re pregnant?

Yep.

Their smiles could have powered my entire town for the next 50 years.

Too bad I felt like crap and didn’t act more enthused. But in reality, I’m over the moon!

My first grandbaby! Wow!

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I’m Stef and this is where it’s @ !~

Please read this before liking it…

Y’all are bound and determined to ruin social media for me.

First, I took a break from Twitter because it devolved into a pissing contest called us vs. them.

Then Facebook got into the act by people I’d known for decades spouting off opinions about the current political climate, then lambasting me for holding an opposing view. I’ve never loved the 30 day “time out” feature FB has so much!

Now it’s Instagram’s turn.

God help you if you hold opinions that aren’t what everyone else thinks, then express them in a public forum. I’ve been called everything from a snowflake, to delusional, to being “on the wrong side of history”.

If your country was being run by a clueless reality TV personality, wouldn’t you speak out?

What kills me are the sheer number of people who defend him. And yes, I realize that may mean some of you who are reading this.

My opinion should matter as a citizen of the United States, but total strangers have said I have no right to say my peace. The conservative Christians are the worst. They’re no more Christian than my cat, they just yell louder (kind of like my ex husband). In name only Christians, not Christ like in any way, except on Sundays. The other six days of the week, they’re loudmouthed, Bible thumping assholes.

I’m tired of people telling me my views don’t matter. They do matter. There’s this thing called the US Constitution, and the first amendment of said Constitution guarantees my right to free speech.

So, I’m going to continue to state my views on social media, because I no longer give a fuck what anyone thinks.

And I hope you read this before liking it.

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I’m Stef, and this is where it’s @ !~

[insert frustrated vocalization here]

I hate what my life has become.

It was 4 years ago last month that all this medical drama thrust its way into my life without so much as a warning.

Since then, my life has been on a funhouse ride of doctors, hospital stays, medications and new symptoms popping up all the time.

And I hate all of it! It’s bordering on the corner of ridiculous and insane.

I can’t even do simple things like go to the store, cook a meal, or walk to the mailbox. Forget going to do fun things like concerts, Heard on Hurd (a monthly festival in Edmond where I live), or the state fair.

I demand immediate return of my boring little life!

Yet, I know that life as I knew it prior to 2014 will never be the same.

I hate being virtually homebound, never having enough money to do even the most mundane things like getting a haircut or renewing my drivers license. I don’t like being on Disability and having people silently judging me because I have a SNAP card or need an electric buggy to get around the store.

I’d rather work, thankyouverymuch. But right now, that’s impossible.

I have a five year old Bachelor’s degree in mass communication that I haven’t been able to use because I got sick so soon after getting it.

And I’m a burden on my family. They haven’t specifically said so, but body language tells a different story.

I have way too much time to think these days.

I just want to be normal again, health wise.

Is that too much to ask?

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I’m Stef and this is where it’s @ !~