November 1st, 2015:

IMMIGRATION MELTING POT OF LA

Front of My Apartment Home on Coldwater

Front of My Apartment Home on Coldwater

Since I’m single and live alone, I am always grateful for my friendly, well-designed apartment house. The two-story building has a courtyard in the middle, Spanish style, not unusual in Southern California. There’s a large pool, and plenty of room left for a couple of pine trees, roses, shrubs and other lush tropical greenery. On the second story we have a wrap-around balcony, which makes it easy to visit with neighbors or just come outdoors to lean on the green iron railing to take in the sun.

As the race for US President in 2016 heats up, I have been concerned with the important issue of immigration. Simplistic solutions like shipping 11 million illegal immigrants back to their home countries seem ridiculous to me. Especially since I live in Los Angeles, home to an estimated 2.6 million illegal immigrants, according to the Christian Science Monitor in 2013. Their stats indicate 63 percent are Mexican, 22 percent are from Central America and 8 percent from the Philippines, China or Korea. Immigration reform is sorely needed, but consider that the US has been a home for immigrants since the 1600s, I don’t feel the answer lies in sending anyone away unless we’re dealing with serious criminals. Many immigrants, legal or not, are working and contributing to society.

My apartment house is in Sherman Oaks in the San Fernando Valley, and I get to mingle with a variety of neighbors who’ve come from all over the world.  The gardeners, electricians, plumbers, etc. are mostly international. Growing up as an Army brat, I had the privilege and joy of living in Libya and Germany for a number of years. What an eye-opening adventure it was to experience how people are quite similar, no matter what religion or cultural differences we had.

The apartment managers of my building escaped from Communist Romania and raised their daughter here in California. With the wonderful changes in Europe, they often take vacations in Romania. A Romanian relative of the managers, who runs a celebrity limo service, lives here with his wife and American-born daughter, an enthusiastic young gymnast. Cuba is represented by a retired  senior whose family escaped Cuba when he was a child. He has no Latin accent but speaks fluent Spanish. A musicians’ union lawyer, also Cuban,  lived here for several years with her daughter, who is close to college graduation. Los Angeles seems to attract Cubans. A few doors from me lives a dancer and choreographer who travels the world because of his talents. He recently married a young Russian and they have a baby son, almost a year old.

My hairdresser, who is Armenian, has lived here with her husband and young daughters for about 10 years. She works a half block away. It’s a friendly salon and these beauty experts all speak Armenian. A woman from Central America, who has a daughter and son, has been here as long as I have. She works in health care and tries to remain patient waiting for her husband to be approved to return to LA from Central America. One of our most recent couples to move in is newly married. The husband is Russian and has a construction business; his wife is Chinese. One of my favorite neighbors and friends, an amazing artist and teacher, moved home to Israel to be near his widowed mother. He came back to visit in the Spring–he was scouting apartments because he wants to come back.

There are some neighbors with American backgrounds, including being from Iowa, Atlanta, and Brooklyn, for instance, and a retired US Marine who’s lived in this building over 20 years. There are even folks who’ve lived mostly in Southern California and are in the entertainment business in one form or another.

Our weekly gardener, a Latino who, unfortunately for me because of the noise, loves the leaf blower but keeps the courtyard neat. One of the regular handymen is a very friendly man from Russia. He installed a new air conditioner for me not long ago, and a new dishwasher with the help of two Latino helpers. He told me he had been here about 17 years with his family. Although I wondered why he hadn’t taken the time to learn more English, he is very cordial and a hard worker.

Cheers to the United States of America, the melting pot that was always emphasized when I was a youngster going to school.

 

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