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Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

My Father the Immigrant

by Deborah Cruz

Ever wonder why an immigrant, illegal or otherwise, really comes to the United States willing to risk his life? Maybe that question is too big, maybe we narrow it down, ever wonder why my dad came to the United States? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not to take anything from you.It’s more about admiration of the freedoms we have and the will to succeed; to achieve the American dream. The freedom to work hard and get ahead in life.

Then ask yourself, if you were desperate, and your child’s life depended on you doing something dangerous, would you do it? What if it were illegal? What if you needed to fast track things in order to save a life? Would you do it? I think we all know the answer is yes. we’d do anything for our children.

I’ve heard a lot of discussions online about immigrants and why many Americans don’t want immigrants here in the United States. People are talking about immigrants like they are not humans but has anyone ever just asked a real, live immigrant,

Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

Hey, immigrant why are you here?

If you are not an immigrant, or the son or daughter of an immigrant, or the friend or loved one of an immigrant, maybe you just don’t know and I’m sure it is different for every single person. But I’m happy to share with you my immigrant story. How this freckled Mexican was born on the right side of the wall.

I’ve been quick to judge all of you. I was only seeing things from my perspective, the daughter of an immigrant; a first generation Mexican-American. I never even considered that there are actually people who don’t even personally know any Mexicans. They know of us, apparently our reputation precedes us, but they don’t “know us”; know us.

Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

They’ve not grown up with us; eaten dinner at our home, been welcomed by my interracial couple parents and been kissed on the cheek and treated like family. They’ve not had the pleasure of hearing my dad, in his thick Spanish accent, look them in the eye, give them a firm hand shake ( even the most down trodden of our neighbors) and say, “Good to see you, buddy!” Never seen the way family is more than the people you share a last name with; never been willing to risk everything for those people.

They’ve never heard my dad sing Happy Birthday, Las Mananitas and You are my sunshine to my daughters every birthday or seen him grab them and start dancing with them whenever he hears music. They’ve never seen his giant smile and the way he says, “Sonofagun” any time his grandchildren do almost anything because he is so in awe of them.

They don’t know that my dad used to bring homeless people home for dinner that he’d see on his walk home from mass. My mom wasn’t too keen on this practice but that’s the type of guy he is. When he wants to, he’ll give you the jacket off his back if you need it more than he does. He’s the man who wore sunglasses when he walked me down the aisle so no one would see him cry, when he gave me away.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that my dad is not perfect. He’s made mistakes but he’s also never been a drug dealer, a rapist or a murderer.

He simply falls into the immigrant category because he was born someplace else.

immigrant, hero

He’s the kind of man who has played the guitar in the church choir since I was a kid. He’s the guy who stopped drinking and now, devotes most of his retirement to not only staying sober but keeping others sober. But he is Mexican. He’s lived in the United States longer than he ever lived there. This is his home but Mexico is where he was born. Mexico is where part of my roots begin.

When all of the political mudslinging started during the campaign, I felt personally attacked because my dad is an immigrant and even though he is not perfect, he has always been a contributing member of society and he raised us to work hard, trust in God and respect our government.

Just because someone is an immigrant, doesn’t mean they are a bad person.

It just means they weren’t born here. They chose to come here. They choose America.

He’s a good man; a good Christian man who reads the bible daily, who has been married to the same woman for 44 years, who has raised 6 children and paid taxes to a country that he loves. The kind of man who plays in the sprinkler with his grandchildren. The kind of man who doesn’t want fame and fortune, he only wanted to be able to give his unborn children a better life than he had; maybe a house without dirt floors, maybe a life where the struggle wasn’t so real.

When people bad mouth immigrants, I take it personally. I feel like the country and the government that my dad loves so much, that we’ve been raised to believe is the best in the world, hated him simply for the color of his skin and by association me, my brothers and sisters and our children; the most precious thing in our lives; family.

The will to succeed is always welcome here.

Those were the words at the end of the Lumber 84, full 6-minute commercial, the one thought to be too controversial for a commercial during the Super Bowl. Those words spoke to me because I was raised by an immigrant who taught me to believe in myself and to know that where there is a will, there is always a way. My father is legal, but is that really relevant to the man he is?

That is all that my immigrant father wanted. The chance to be a member of our society; a chance to give his children a better life. He doesn’t hate Americans. He loves everything about this country. So what are we all so afraid of?

There’s been some confusion about the true meaning behind this commercial. I saw it as a beautiful thing but it seems I didn’t realize that a mother and daughter making their way to a better life is only beautiful if you come through the door. If you can’t find the door, I guess you’re just supposed to give up and live the life you’re doomed to live and I guess, according to Lumber 84, we’re all supposed to be okay with that.

Tomorrow, Desierto is released on DVD, I highly recommend that you watch it then maybe you’ll see why immigrants are more afraid of you than you should be afraid of them.

What’s the difference between the European immigrants that founded this country hundreds of years ago and the Mexican and Muslim immigrants who are trying to make a better life for their children now, besides the color of their skin? Then again, I guess it’s always been hard for immigrants.

What is the difference between an immigrant and you or I, besides a piece of paper?

My Father the Immigrant
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My Father the Immigrant
An immigrant is more than just someone who comes to this country to start a new life, they are a human and if you just spoke to one, you'd know they are just like you or I just born in another country. Why are they coming here? A first-hand answer.
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Mammahomemaker (Maria Briggs) 2017/02/06 - 7:38 pm

My Stepdad told us how he got here over twenty years ago from Peru. He told us how he went to Ecuador and from there to Guatemala, and from Guatemala he was “exported” to Tijuana where a Coyote was waiting for him and about 30 other people. He told us about how they were all put into a tractor trailer with barely any water to split among them. The smell of feces and urine, enough to add the smell of vomit to the mixture. He told me about the strong currents of El Rio Grande and how he saw a little girl and her mother get lost in it. He told me and showed me scars from being burnt in the dessert. When he came to the U.S he searched for his Aunt who took him in. As he was getting ready to request permanent residency he met my mother. He is now a business owner and has a wonderful family. All because he chose to come to America rather than stay in poverty stricken Peru. As a daughter of immigrants and a step-daughter of an illegal immigrant, a wall shouldn’t even be considered. America is home of the free, home of the brave, and these people are brave and seeking freedom. These “immigrants” are people!

Deborah Cruz 2017/02/07 - 11:30 am


This is so true and I think many immigrants stories are very similar. They came here to do better, to be better to live free not to take anything from anyone else.

robin Rue 2017/02/07 - 8:34 am

Somewhere along the line, we all come from immigrants – whether it is the last generation or a few back. SOME people seem to forget that….

Deborah Cruz 2017/02/07 - 11:32 am

I have always said this. The very ironic thing is that even though I am first generation American on my dad’s side, I have Cherokee on my mom’s side so in another way, I am indigenous to the United States. I like to think that we are all a great mix of peoples and that is what makes us the best in the world because of that mix , not in spite of it. .

Alli Smith 2017/02/07 - 8:36 am

Aren’t we all immigrants or descendant of immigrants?The early colonists came from England, Holland, and France. The Native Americans were here first. I think our arms should be open wide to immigrants, but I also think Immigrants should come to this country legally.

Deborah Cruz 2017/02/07 - 11:37 am

I agree that we should have our arms open to immigrants. I don’t think we should ever turn our back on people who truly need our help, it’s like kicking a starving homeless person. Of course, everyone would prefer to come here legally but sometimes you are desperate to get yourself or your family out of danger and someplace safe. If you are starving or your life is being threatened, sometimes you might not have the time to jump through the hoops. I think our country was founded on the fact that immigrants were welcomed here to escape persecution and I think we should honor that tradition. I understand legally knowing who is in our country and making sure that they contribute, I think most of the would prefer that, but maybe we need to make it not so impossible.

Cathy Chester 2017/02/07 - 8:37 am

I’m so glad you wrote this, an important post for everyone to read. Your father sounds magnificent and he certainly is a wonderful American. I am also a daughter of an immigrant, one forced to flee Nazi Germany. So, no. America is a place for people who want to live a better life come to, not flee from. With this new administration, I don’t know what will happen. But I sure am proud of our fathers!

Deborah Cruz 2017/02/07 - 11:40 am


Me too and if they hadn’t gotten here, who knows what would have become of you and I or if we would even have ever had the chance to exist? I am so glad that your father was able to flee Nazi Germany and come to America. I’m proud of our fathers too. When I speak of immigrants, I speak of all immigrants seeking safety and a better way of life, political asylum and freedom from religious persecution. Thanks for your comment.

Rena McDaniel 2017/02/07 - 9:07 am

I loved this Deborah! I think that America needs to remember that we are all the daughter and sons of immigrants. We all come from somewhere else. Human kindness and empathy seems to have gone out the window with the election!

Deborah Cruz 2017/02/07 - 11:43 am


Thank you for your kind words and I just wanted to give the immigration issue a face, a name, and a life. It’s not just some nameless, faceless, inanimate object. These are people with families and who contribute to society. They are humans and as such, don’t we all deserve a little kindness and dignity?

Christopher Lewis 2017/02/07 - 10:03 am

This was a powerful commercial and a story. I appreciated the emotion, and the journey as well as the love that you see between mother and child. This really shows the plight of many immigrants working to find a better life for their family.

Franc Ramon 2017/02/07 - 10:24 am

People migrate mostly to find a better future. It’s nice that they do a lot of goodwill towards their fellowmen even beyond borders.

lisa 2017/02/07 - 11:35 am

Most people here are descendants of immigrants from one country or another. My mother’s family is native american but my father’s family is from Europe. Coming here to America was their way of finding a better life for themselves.

Ben 2017/02/07 - 12:32 pm

I absolutely loved this commercial. Trump’s stance on immigration is only one of the ridiculous things he’s doing to undermine out country, but it’s also one of the most horrible. The idea of just scooping up people and throwing them out of the country, and further, blocking any others from coming in to find a better life is not only logistically impossible, it’s also morally corrupt.

Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC 2017/02/07 - 2:00 pm

Lovely piece. Interesting about that commercial, I took it to mean that the company BUILT the door in the wall. Will have to read the link. My family were immigrants from Germany. A long time ago. They weren’t welcome here, and definitely didn’t talk about their German heritage during either World War. My grandfather served in WWI and WWII.

candy 2017/02/07 - 2:25 pm

My grandparents had to leave two children to immigrate to US. They finally came over 10 years later. This country is built on immigrants but do it the legal way please. Not fair to those people I know who came over and went through the process legally. When I talk to them about this issue they get upset about those who try to bypass the system.

Pam Wattenbarger 2017/02/07 - 2:38 pm

I saw the Budweiser commercial and it reminded me of my own ancestors who came from Germany. Several of our friends are actually recent immigrants.

Diane 2017/02/07 - 3:28 pm

Cried through this, Debi. My Mom’s parents emigrated to Canada in 1919. My mom and her brothers are first gens. My Dad’s family emigrated to the US in the 1800’s. I am forever grateful they were welcomed. Because I am the end result of all that moving around. 🙂

Dawn McAlexander 2017/02/07 - 5:47 pm

The thing that many people don’t realize is that, unless we are Native American, we are all immigrants to a degree. Immigrants helped make this country great. They are really the backbone of our country in many ways. Also, if these people were in the same situation as those that are coming to the U.S., then they would change their tune immediately. I don’t begrudge immigrants coming into this country. As long as they are willing to work and pay their fair share, then they should be allowed to come here.

Beth Havey 2017/02/07 - 5:48 pm

Thank you so much for this post. And for posting the 84 Lumber commercial too. We are all descendants of immigrants, some of us just have grandparents or great grandparents that
started the process for us. Mine came from Germany in the late 1800s. They started a florist shop and had nine children. (my mother’s side of the family) My father’s people came
around the same time, also from Germany. My grandfather was a jeweler. They worked hard. But none of my people became billionaires!! They were able to help their children get
an education, though in my grandmother’s family (the one with the 9 children) only she got two years of teachers college. And one of her brothers. The rest had to get jobs.

I hate the idea of the wall. The Obama administration sent many illegals back. People who come to our shores and borders and want to become citizens should be welcomed. And there has
been vetting for people from Syria etc. That’s the way it works and should continue to work.

Amanda 2017/02/08 - 9:14 am

I totally agree, Beth. Many people don’t know how long and complicated the vetting process is for immigrants and how it is already very strong. I am so disappointed that people are so fearful of people who are different from them, when that is something we should be celebrating!

Jacqui @FlightsFancyMom 2017/02/07 - 8:52 pm

Immigrants come to America for a variety of reasons. This country was built up by immigrants, taken from the true Native Americans. It’s a sad day when people turn on one another. I love that your dad had a big heart to bring people home for meals after mass.

Annemarie LeBlanc 2017/02/07 - 9:32 pm

I have mixed feelings about the wall. I lived and worked abroad for 2 years and I was labeled as an “alien resident” like I just came from the Andromeda Galaxy. It would help if people would quit generalizing all immigrants as being harmful to the country and the economy. If we could go back in time, when the earth had just one big land mass (Pangea), there were no such thing as immigrants because we are all on this earth for the same purpose – to live and make a life worth living for our children.

LauraOinAK 2017/02/07 - 10:41 pm

What a beautiful post!

I think it is easy to forget history when it in not in your face. While there are some families who can trace back to the 1600s in America, most of us only have to go back a few generations to an ancestor that immigrated.

Chubskulit Rose 2017/02/08 - 5:51 am

I am an immigrant here as well, came here legally but waited many years before I became citizen. I have nothing against people coming to the US for a better life as long as they would try to adopt our way of culture and abide by the rules and law.

Rebecca Swenor 2017/02/08 - 8:57 am

That was the first time I seen the Super Bowl commercial but I am so glad they played it. I don’t think it was suppose to be confusing and I see it as the lumber company trying to get other to see we are suppose to be welcoming. Sorry if it offended you. So many disagree with what is happening with the immigrants and maybe we are all the ones that our great grandparents were immigrant who come here for a better life. Thanks for sharing your story and thoughts.

Jenn @ EngineerMommy 2017/02/08 - 11:22 am

Immigrants are the touchstone of this country, and what makes this country uniquely special. Your father sounds like a wonderful man that has accomplished so much! This is a beautiful post!

Cathy McInnes 2017/02/09 - 9:57 am

What a beautiful story of your Father’s life and legacy! Beautiful family photos!

Sara 2017/02/10 - 5:08 pm

Very touching story! America has always accepted immigrants and I don’t think that should change.

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