3 years ago

Once-detained Alabama mother speaks out in favor of travel ban

By Kellie McIntyre from 4 Worn Passports

My concern for the oppressed people of the world took root in my childhood in the 1970’s. I credit my mother for this. I vividly remember riding with my mom in our wood-paneled station wagon on Sunday mornings picking up Southeast Asian refugees and taking them to church. I recall giving them basic household items to help them set up their new homes in a foreign land. I remember that every time I wouldn’t eat my dinner, my parents scolded me and reminded me of the starving children in Cambodia.

I remember being so bothered by their situation, that when a local children’s news show solicited ideas for current events’ topics, I submitted an entry about the Southeast Asian refugee crisis. It never aired. Apparently, the producers didn’t think Pol Pot’s genocide was a suitable topic for other 9 year olds.

In the 1980’s, I had a high school friend who had escaped from Vietnam during the fall of Saigon in 1975. Like many “boat people,” Nina, her mother, and her younger siblings escaped under the cover of darkness. Her older half-siblings and grandparents did not make it out. Although her mother spoke no English, Nina was a star student, star athlete, and even class president. Nina embraced the American Dream in a big way.

Like most Americans of my generation, I’ve never lived in a war-torn country, feared an oppressive government, suffered religious persecution, or fled genocide.

Strangely, however, I know exactly what it feels like to be detained in immigration and deported from a foreign country, despite all efforts to fully comply with the entrance requirements.

Three years ago, my husband, two daughters and I were detained in Chinese immigration. We, along with three 20-something Swedish men, were held for hours in frigid, polluted conditions and denied access to our coats, food, and water. (After several hours they did oblige our request for water and provided (2) eight ounce bottles for seven people to share.) At the end of our detainment, the three Swedes were released and our family was deported. Despite our harrowing ordeal, there were no protests, lawsuits, or media coverage.

Our Chinese detention and deportation experience was the first time in my life that I knew what it felt like to be powerless and captive. That is a terrible combination. I remember being terrified that they would separate us from our daughters and there would be nothing that we could do. I barely held myself together. When the ordeal finally ended the next day, I remembered thinking:

Freedom is like oxygen–you don’t realize how important it is until you no longer have it.

Fast forward three years and we now find our nation embroiled in a bitter immigration feud. Although both sides have very different opinions, we can probably all agree that the immediate implementation and enforcement of President Trump’s travel ban at the end of January was a catastrophe. Meanwhile, the revised immigration order was signed earlier today. The outrage over the initial policy going into effect while people were in transit was completely understandable. What I don’t understand, though, is why so many Americans are vehemently opposed to any sort of immigration reform.

To illustrate my point, consider the following question:

What do you do when you see a homeless and/or suffering person?

    1. Nothing at all
    2. Give food
    3. Give a little money
    4. Give a lot of money
    5. Volunteer in a shelter
    6. Invite them to move in with you

I have done all of the above except #6.

Does that make me an evil, bigoted hater?

Or does that make me a compassionate, yet cautious, mother?

Although I care deeply about the plight of others, my first priority is to the safety and security of my family. So I choose to help in a way that doesn’t put my family at risk.

Similarly, the role of our government, first and foremost, is to protect its citizens.

This doesn’t mean that we are not a safe harbor for the persecuted, but it does mean that we must be smart about the process we use to allow immigrants into our home (country). We are a nation based on freedom, liberty and equal rights. All who seek to join the American family should share the same values.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable to have different visa and immigration policies for different countries.

Despite what the media would have you believe, this concept is not the brain child of the current administration nor is it isolated to the United States. In fact, all of our ancestors who immigrated through Ellis Island were subjected to scrutiny that is far more stringent than it is today. It is the reason the Swedes were allowed into China and, we, the Americans, were deported. This is how countries around the world operate.

If you really want to know what the people of the world are like or how other countries handle immigration, go see for yourself!

Don’t rely on what you see on TV or read in the news. For instance, would it surprise you to know that our most memorable Christian experience was attending a Baptist church service in Muslim-majority Malaysia? Or that Australia’s strict immigration requirements extend beyond humans?

In fact, Australia is rabies-free thanks to its strict pet immigration and quarantine policy. Australia will allow cats or dogs from anywhere in the world to enter its country, but the process varies based on the prevalence of rabies in the pet’s home country. New Zealand is the only country exempt from this policy because New Zealand is also rabies-free. The immigration steps for cats and dogs from all other countries in the world can be lengthy (6+ months), expensive (~$1,200+), and require a minimum 10 day quarantine once they enter Australia.

So does this mean every dog or cat outside of New Zealand that wants to immigrate to Australia is rabid?

Of course not.

But by taking stepped up precautions based on the prevalence of rabies in the home country, Australia has managed to keep this deadly disease outside of its borders.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what we want for our nation as well?

Whether it’s rabies, terrorism, or some other type of threat, certain countries do pose a greater risk than others. An intelligent immigration policy would allow anyone from anywhere to enter our country legally once we are confident that they are not a risk to the American way of life. To continue being a refuge for the persecuted, we must ensure that the evil that caused the crises the immigrants are fleeing cannot take root here.

I doubt Cambodia and Vietnam were very high on most tourists’ bucket lists 40 years ago, or Germany and Japan 70 years ago. Yet, today, Cambodia, Vietnam and Germany are three of my favorite places that I’ve visited, and Japan is on my short list. Just as evil was defeated and peace restored in Cambodia and Germany, hopefully, a generation from now, the very countries from which people are fleeing will be at the tops of travelers’ lists.

Until then, wouldn’t creating an immigration process that is both compassionate and cautious be a win-win for both Americans and for future Americans?

About 4 Worn Passports:

We are an Alabama family with a passion for independent family travel. In 2013, we withdrew our daughters from middle school and traveled around the world. We spent less on our 5 month worldwide adventure than many people spend on cars—and our memories won’t depreciate!

Although our “big trip” is over, we are still exploring. Our blog is full of trip ideas, tips to stretch your travel budget, practical advice, and funny (and not-so-funny) stories about our adventures and misadventures across six continents.

We hope our blog inspires you to pursue your wildest dreams, no matter how unconventional they may be!

10 hours ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Brad Mendheim for state Supreme Court

The Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) on Monday announced its endorsement of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Brad Mendheim in the Republican primary for place two on the court.

Mendheim was first appointed to the state’s highest court by Governor Kay Ivey in 2018. He lost election to a full term to that office in the 2018 election cycle but was appointed to a different vacancy, place two, on the Supreme Court by Ivey earlier this year.

In a statement, AFA executive vice president Chris Isaacson said, “We are proud to support Justice Mendheim in his race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court.”

“His conservative judicial philosophy along with a proven track record earned over 20 years make him the right person for the job,” he concluded.


Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court by Ivey, Mendheim was a circuit judge for Houston and Henry counties from 2009- 2018.

Before his election to that office, he served as district judge of Houston County from 2001-2008 and as an assistant district attorney, making him uniquely qualified as a former prosecutor and trial judge.

“I am honored to receive the support of Forest PAC, a group which has a long reputation of supporting conservative leaders in the state of Alabama,” Mendheim emphasized.

He advised, “My judicial philosophy is simple: to follow the Constitution and rule with impartiality, and I pledge to continue that as long as I am privileged to serve. It is not our role on the Alabama Supreme Court to bring a political agenda to work, and I strongly believe that groups such as the Forestry Association recognize that all who come before our court deserve two things: a fair review of the facts and ultimately, for the rule of law to be upheld.”

During his judicial career, Mendheim has presided over more than 300 jury trials.

He graduated with a BA from Auburn University and went on to receive his JD from Cumberland School of Law. Mendheim and his wife, Michelle, have been married for over 24 years. They are the proud parents of three sons: Connor, Ryan and Carson. They are long time members of First Baptist Church of Dothan, where Brad is a Sunday school teacher and deacon.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

Alabama’s Tony Cochran launches new initiative to help grow small businesses

After 40 years of business advising, Alabama-based businessman Tony Cochran is excited to announce the creation of Team Delta3, LLC.

Team Delta3 will essentially offer a premier business boot camp, taking on the task of educating business owners on best practices for success with a focus on the three key ways to grow their businesses.

In a statement, Cochran explained, “For over four decades I have watched business owners who are very good at their respective craft, struggle to be successful.”


He is the president of CK Business Solutions, PC, a consulting and accounting firm headquartered in Albertville.

Roughly 20 years ago, Cochran changed his focus from delivering traditional business, tax and accounting advice to one of helping business owners find solutions to everyday problems. His passion for helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, develop repeatable processes and face the modern-day challenges in an increasingly competitive world has led him to be a part of an elite group of business advisors.

“Many universities, small business incubators and consultants have tried various ways to help businesses grow,” Cochran outlined. “Our approach at Team Delta3 is to take proven techniques and present them in a concentrated, focused ‘Boot Camp’ style environment so that each participant leaves with the tangible game plan needed to grow their business into a thriving enterprise.”

Beyond his own successful advisory businesses, Cochran has been recognized by a number of organizations for his leadership and civic contributions.

He is a board member of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and previously served on its executive committee. Currently, Cochran is a member of the 30th (XXX) class of Leadership Alabama, chairman of the board of the Albertville Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the board of his church, founding chairman of the Albertville City Schools Foundation, board member of the North Central Alabama Girl Scouts and in 2002 received the Citizen of the Year Award the highest award given for community service in his hometown. He also holds the designations of CPA and CMGA.

However, the impressive involvement does not end at the Alabama state line for Cochran.

Later this month, he will be a VIP at the Living Legends event in New York City.

Living Legends brings together the top business consultants in the United States to exchange ideas and develop a nationwide network of renowned consultants in marketing, internet sales, branding, growth and general business. These include people such as Martha Stewart, Michael Gerber and Clint Arthur.

As a VIP, Cochran will be internationally recognized for his skills and contribution to business clients throughout the course of his career.

“For someone who calls Sand Mountain home, having the opportunity to be a part of an event as large in scope as Living Legends is an incredible honor. I look forward to integrating concepts and collaborators from Living Legends into the new venture of Team Delta3 and our BootCamp experience,” Cochran concluded.

“BootCamp” participants can expect intensive training during the course of the three-day event. Concepts related to market growth, key performance indicators and applied metrics will be developed for each business. These indicators will be the drivers that provide owners measurable results.

Find out more here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

12 hours ago

Bradley Byrne previews attacks that are sure to come against Tommy Tuberville

Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville is the frontrunner in the GOP primary race for the right to take on United States Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) but eventually, the attacks will come.

U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) may have been showing how Tuberville’s opponents are going to take him on in the near future at a meeting of the Tennessee Valley Republican Club on Saturday morning.

Byrne touched on the carpetbagger allegation without mention Tuberville, saying, “I’m from here, not from wherever else. I love Alabama and know what we need to get done.”


Later he added, “I didn’t come back here to run because it’s convenient. I love this state and I love fighting for Alabama. And that’s exactly what you’ll get with me – a fighter.”

This is hardly a new tact for Tuberville’s detractors, and it may be effective because Alabama is a very proud state that loves its homegrown products.

Byrne further questioned Tuberville’s reason for running.

I’m not running for this seat because I got bored and needed something to do,” he said while touting his service to Alabama. “I’ve spent most of my life serving. I want to help the people of this great state.”

But it wasn’t all attacks for Byrne on Saturday morning. The congressman also touted his experience in Washington as the most important for Alabamians to support his candidacy.

“It’s more about being able to sit in a room and get things done for your state. I know how to do that, and I’ll be able to keep getting things done for Alabama,” he explained.

Byrne would mention the Space Force command and praise North Alabama as the perfect place for it while adding, “There is nowhere in the country better equipped for it, and as your senator, I’ll continue to fight every day to see that we get things like this done.”

How an argument about experience and effectiveness works in 2020, and in the era of Trump, remains to be seen.

What is clear, is that the issues Byrne is talking about on the campaign trail now will continue to be heard as long as Tommy Tuberville is an untraditional and inexperienced candidate with an apparent lead in the polls.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

13 hours ago

Tuberville: Alabamians ‘trust football coaches a heck of a lot more than they trust politicians’

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a 2020 Republican U.S. Senate candidate in the Yellowhammer State, on Monday appeared on Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.” to discuss his support of President Donald Trump and the state of the race to unseat Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

Tuberville reiterated his belief that “President Trump has saved this country.”

He said he was unsure who the president will support in Alabama’s GOP senatorial primary, if anyone, but emphasized Trump’s support “goes a long way in the state.”

Tuberville also reaffirmed that he will not take his salary if elected to the U.S. Senate.


“[W]e’ve got to get away from the career politicians,” Tuberville remarked. “I’m not an establishment [candidate], I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m not taking a salary. I want to do it for the right reasons.”

The guest host then asked the former college football coach if his ties to Auburn might dissuade some Crimson Tide fans from voting for him.

“You know, before I decided to run, I did my due diligence,” Tuberville responded. “I went across the state talking to people about this.”

“And you know, at the end of the day, the people of Alabama — they trust football coaches a heck of a lot more than they trust politicians,” he continued. “So, I’m going to get as many (University of) Alabama votes. I’m going to get Auburn votes.”

“We need something strong, you know. We need people who make decisions for the right reasons. And they trust football coaches in this state, I promise you that,” Tuberville concluded.


Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Mondays for Moms: Let them be little

Let them be little

I was rocking my littlest one to sleep this weekend when out-of-the-blue stressful thoughts began savagely invading my somewhat peaceful brain …


What about those dishes, Erin? You forgot to clean the kitchen table after lunch.

When are you ever gonna get to all those baskets of laundry that are piling up like garbage piles on trash day? 

And how about those windows that have prehistoric fingerprints on them from when the babies were just that … babies … ahhh!

Then, my little girl’s hand gently stroked my arm. She had no clue that her simple gesture soothed her over-stressed momma instantly.

Today, I am rocking my little girl comfortably in our glider tucked away from the crazies of the real world. But, one day I’ll be rocking nervously back and forth in my bed waiting to see the lights from her car pour onto my comforter signaling she has made it home safely once again.

Today, I am cutting the edges off of my toddler’s toast to make sure she enjoys every bite. But, one day, I’ll be desperately avoiding cutting the “helicopter mommy” cord on her wedding day wishing more than anything to be “slaving away” on the heart-shaped PB&Js in the kitchen again.

Today, I am hoping she doesn’t scream “mommy” one more time while I hide under the dining room table searching for any amount of sanity that might be miraculously hidden under there. But, tomorrow, I will be giving any amount of money to hear her say my name each time a need arises in her precious adult life.

Today, I am folding her sheets and towels only to discover her playing hide and seek tucked deep in the laundry basket among all the dryer sheets and warmth. But, one day, I’ll be reluctantly walking the aisles at Target with her shopping for dorm linens, shower shoes and bath caddies.

Today, I am reading her bedtime stories and singing soft little tunes as I have the privilege of tucking her in. But, one day, I’ll be reading her name on a graduation pamphlet and fighting back tears as I sing hymns of congratulatory praise for her accomplishments.

So the laundry, the dishes and the tidying can take a seat. All those chores can be done when I get around to it … whenever that may be.

Because right now, I’m gonna let her be little. And soak up every last minute of it.

To receive encouragement and read more about thriving rather than simply surviving in motherhood, check out Erin’s book, Cheers the Diaper Years: 10 Truths for Thriving While Barely Surviving here.