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My husband and I both work long hours, often leaving and returning while it’s dark. We don’t have kids, we don’t have dogs, and we don’t do our own yard work, so our interaction with our neighbors is pretty limited.

Fortunately, not everyone is as reclusive as we are and the last year or so, there have been some block gatherings where we’ve shared a glass of wine, met new neighbors and caught up with ones we’ve met previously. One couple that we enjoyed meeting lives in the house directly across the street. They’re named, for the sake of convenience, John and Mary. They’re a professional couple in their early forties. First impression was that they’re fairly quiet, pleasant people. From our cocktail conversation, we learned that she’s an accountant and that he works for one of the techno-giants with operations here in Dallas.

We’ve expanded our friendship with them, and the last couple of months we’ve taken turns having each other over for dinner. They’ve turned out to be just a delightful, gracious, funny couple that we’ve enjoyed immensely. It’s amazing what you find when you take time to talk to people.

It turns out that “Mary” had JRA. And while she’s been in remission for a number of years, I think a lot has to do with the fact that she watches her health and ensures she has a lot of anti-inflammatory food in her diet.

It further turns out that it’s not just “John”, it’s Dr. John. He has his Ph.D. in something I can’t even pronounce and is working on something like sub-molecular power sources that will revolutionize things like creating power sources so that pacemaker batteries will only have to be changed every 10 years. Except it’s more complex and even cooler than I can describe here.

Wow.

John and Mary are planning a two-week trip to Europe next month and while they were over for dinner last weekend, we told them about GOES. That stands for Global Online Entry System, and it’s a “known traveler” program by Homeland Security that basically lets you breeze to the front of the line and then on through customs and immigration when you return back to the United States. We love it. After long intercontinental flights, nothing is worse than slogging your way through lines getting back into the country.

They were excited to hear about it.

Then John told us a story that explained why.

Did I mention that John and Mary are of Hispanic heritage? American citizens, yes. John was born in Texas. Mary has had her citizenship for a number of years.

It seems that on a recent trip back from out of the country, the immigration officer decided to call John aside. They separated him from Mary, and two men with guns took him to an interrogation room.

For two hours.

They grilled him about everything from his childhood to what he was doing out of the country.

They wouldn’t speak English to him. Even though he explained numerous times that he’s an American citizen, that he was born here, and that English is his native language, they continued to address him in Spanish.

They finally released him and he and Mary were allowed back in the country. No wonder he was so excited about finding a way to certify he’s not a terrorist, or a drug lord, or a smuggler. Or even an illegal immigrant.

Am I angry that something like this happened to one of the nicest, smartest, most gracious people I’ve ever met? Yes.

If I had read in the paper that Homeland Security had nabbed an international criminal trying to sneak through customs and immigration by “interviewing” him at the airport, would I have been proud of our security system? Absolutely.

Can we have it both ways? I don’t think so.

Immigration is an amazingly difficult and complex topic and it has a different perspective for everyone involved. Texas’ border with Mexico is the longest of any state and you can understand that immigration is a topic not far from the top of everyone’s list.

I don’t have the answer. I hear and understand the arguments on both sides. What I do know is that we have to a better job of finding an answer and figuring out a way to tell the good guys from the bad ones. 

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I hope that whatever crosses your borders today makes you smile. Thanks for checking in.

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