By R. Mark Frey
“It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter,” wrote George Harrison in his song, “Here Comes the Sun”, from the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Indeed, it has been a long winter here in Minnesota. Snow fell through early May and now, with the arrival of June, we’ve finally commenced thinking about the all too short summer–longer days, Shakespeare in the Park, outdoor concerts, soccer tournaments, baseball and softball, BBQ fests, sidewalk cafés, picnics in the park, gardening, and any other excuse to get outside to soak up the sunshine.
At the time of this writing, there’s a brief lull in immigration reform activity in Congress which makes it a good time to think about and make plans for some of those outdoor activities over the coming weeks. With the growing diversity in our state’s population, there’s no better place to start than those events celebrating immigration, our varied ethnic backgrounds, and what we share as residents of the state.
To name just a few, consider the Dragon Festival at Lake Phalen Park in St. Paul (July 13-14), Lao Family Community of Minnesota’s Hmong Freedom Celebration at Como Park in St. Paul (July 6-7), Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival at Como Park in St. Paul (August 18), Citizenship Day of Welcome at the State Capitol in St. Paul (June 29), International Festival in Burnsville (July 13), The Pow Wow in Pipestone (July 27-28), Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul (June 27-29), Middle Eastern Festival in West St. Paul (July 19-21), Swedish Heritage Day at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis (June 23), and the mother of all fairs, the Minnesota State Fair (a.k.a. the Great Minnesota Get-Together), in St. Paul (August 22-September 2). (More information about these events and more can be found at the Explore Minnesota website, www.exploreminnesota.com).
There’s much to celebrate in Minnesota during the summer and these events are a great excuse for getting outdoors and relaxing with friends and family while soaking up some of the sun’s rays.
For me, the song, “Summertime”, from Porgy and Bess, a folk opera composed by George Gershwin, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, evokes the best of summer and its memories:
And the livin’ is easy,
Fish are jumpin’,
And the cotton is high.
Oh, Your daddy’s rich,
And your mamma’s good lookin’,
So hush little baby,
Don’t you cry.
One of these mornings,
You’re going to rise up singing,
Then you’ll spread your wings,
And you’ll take to the sky.
But til that morning,
There’s a’nothing can harm you,
With your daddy and mamma standing by.”
Enjoy the sunshine while it’s here. It won’t be that long before we contend with the snow again in this far northern clime. But at the same time, don’t forget to contact your senators and representatives in Congress urging them to pass comprehensive immigration reform this summer. It’s time for change! Stay tuned.
(R. Mark Frey is a St. Paul, Minnesota attorney who has been practicing immigration law exclusively for almost 25 years with an emphasis on political asylum, family immigration, naturalization, and removal.