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The First American

Michelle Lakov's story posted on June 20, 2012 at 9:14 am. Michelle emigrated from Leningrad, Soviet Union (USSR) to Detroit, United States in 1991

The story is written by Camp RSM @ Sunapee counselor Michelle Lakov.

In the long line of my extended family, as far as any of us are concerned, I am the first "real" American (as my family likes to call it.)  In other words, I am the only one who could run for president (if I really wanted to) and I was the only one who did not have to fill out papers upon papers to gain citizenship.

My family lived in St. Petersburg, Russia back when it was still called Leningrad.  My parents met, had a quiet wedding, and within a couple of years had my sister.  Their life in Russia was a difficult one; money was scarse, supplies were scarse, and my sister was always sick.  All of this was multiplied by the fact that they were Jewish.  My mother used to tell me how she had to teach a young child, not even three years old, to hide under the table with the long white table cloth if there was ever an emergency, and to stay there no matter what color water she saw spilled on the floor.  Even if it was red.  

When my sister was four years old, it was 1990, my mother and father moved to Finland where they lived for a year before moving to America. My dad would go to work all day, and my mother would stay home with my sister, unable to adjust so quickly to a new language and a new town.  The stories I hear of Finland always surround my sister, who befriended a girl with whom she had no way to talking to.  The stories alays come with laughter, so i have to assume they were somewhat happy there.

When my family finally moved to America, with the help of a family friend, they lived in Detroit where my dad took up work at a local Papa Gino's ( a pizza place) and my mother decided to go to Beauty School.  Not long after they moved, all of my grandparents came along.  

Eventually my dad got a job offer in the middle of nowhere, Urbandale, Iowa at a prestigious Engineering Company and they moved out there.  After three years, when my family had established itself, adjusted to America, found jobs and hobbies, I was born in 1994.

When I talk to my family about their lives in Russia, I always feel slightly left out.  They all experainced a difficult and traumatic move that they had to fight together, as a family, to accomplish successfully.  I was very lucky to have been born in America and have things handed to me on a silver platter while my grandparents went to war and lived in orphanages, but I am also very lucky that I have had to opportunity to hear their stories (even though I'm sure they're all sugar coated for my sake).  It has given me perspective on our modern lives which seem so simple, but are nothing compared to what they had to endure.  This is something I feel that everyone should understand.


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Pf1I didn't say I wanted more imtarginms. I'm neutral on that point. Moreover, if fewer undocumented workers would make for better wages for the working poor, I guess I'm in favor of fewer undocumented workers. And, while I suppose I would like to change the laws to make them more consistent with reality, I have above explained why it is not possible to change them. I did not say that I like the laws as they are. I merely pointed out that the requisite political will to change them is not there. With regard to the four draconian measures you advocated, I merely pointed out that they would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe of horrible proportions and could only be supported by a totalitarian government of the most intrusive kind. You couldn't do what you're talking about without suspending the protections afforded individulas by the Constitution. And, frankly, the Constitution, while it's creaky at times, is better than nothing. I don't want to live in a country where snitches denounce their neighbors as either imtarginms or as employers of such--where innocent people get snatched up into huge roundups never to be seen again. Measures like those you advocate could probably only be enforced by the most brutal mental and physical means. Families would be ripped up. People would die unnecessarily in custody. I also am appalled by the vision of deporting all these millions of people. How does that work? You march them under the lash across the bridge at Laredo into Mexico in huge masses? Women and chidren too? With no food and shelter? Where will the concentration camps be located? What I will say is the number one reason laws are not enforced in this country is that not enough money is allocated to enforce them. (That's a favorite trick of the Bush administration--make policies to save New Orleans, for instance, and then deny funding.) I doubt we could pay enough taxes to support the horrific regime that could implement your plans. So, if you want to completely destroy the U.S. as we have it, I can't think of a better way than to have a crackdown on undocumented workers as you have advocated.

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