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,
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.
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’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.
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.
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.