The Random Writings of Rachel: Thanks, Mom and Dad, for Immigrating.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for Immigrating.

{Angel asked if he could contribute a blog post today, one that was very important to him, so I'm stepping aside.}

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I came across this article in the news recently--the story of immigrants who ended up willing their entire estate to the government of the United States of America. Their motivations aren't entirely clear, but it's suspected that these immigrants felt grateful to a country that had taken them in when their own countries had provided no home for them.

I've also recently been reading up on the background of the Rohingya, the people who seemingly no country will claim as their own, although they have searched desperately for somewhere where they can live normally.


Reading these stories brought my mind back to the immigrants in my life, my mother and father. I have come to realize that  my life is hugely influenced by the fact that I was born in America. I am grateful and thankful that I was born in a country where I was provided an education and where my family received assistance when we were living in poverty.

It is possible to get a good education in Mexico. It's possible to live comfortably and well. But it would not have been possible for me; my family is not among the rich and powerful. If it weren't for my parents individually moving to America in the years before I was born, my brothers and I wouldn't have had the kinds of opportunities that we have simply because we're American.

Everyone has some sort of immigrant story of their parents or grandparents going through great physical trials and personal sacrifice to come to America--there are so many stories that it's easy to just ignore them, or lump them all together, call it the "past", and be done with it. I know the reason that my parents came to America was that they thought the great country to the north offered them a brighter future. And it did--for them, as well as their children, and the next generation, too.


I know I could receive criticism for thanking my parents for doing something that was illegal. I know there's nothing that sets an red-blooded American's temper going like hearing that the child of a teenage undocumented immigrant was on WIC. But I can't help but be thankful--because what they did gave me the life I now get to have. As teens, my parents did something incredibly scary, leaving their families behind and moving to a country where they didn't speak the language. My mom didn't see her own mother or father for over 10 years, because if she went back to Mexico, she'd have had to stay. Neither of my parents had a high school education. My dad was homeless for a period of time when he first arrived. But they found ways to get work. As a child, I remember our family sharing a two bedroom apartment with another family so that we could afford the rent--my brother and I slept in the dining room. Dad was working in different machinery jobs, Mom was working as a CNA and going to school to get her cosmetology license.

No, my parents aren't perfect people, and they haven't always made the most strategic decisions. I hadn't learned any English by the time I was put in school, which is the dramatic story behind why I flunked kindergarten. I'm proud of them for hiring a lawyer and becoming U.S. Citizens--which they have now been for the majority of my life.

Because my parents chose to immigrate to America more than thirty years ago--today, they live in a safe neighborhood with a good school for my youngest brother. My parents may not have been able to go to high school, but I was able to get my Bachelor's Degree from a private university. My other brother served in the United States Military, and is now in the process of getting his Bachelor's Degree. Because of their choice, all three of us have had a life far easier than their own. We may speak Spanish every chance we get, and we may love homemade Mexican food, but we're American, because of choices my parents made long ago. They are a great example of parental love, to me, and I'm thankful to them for making our lives possible.

22 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your parent's inspiring story.

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  2. What an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing, Angel. <3

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  3. Poderoso y valiente, Angel. Si sólo hubiera las mismas oportunidades en América Latina, no habría necesidad de la gente a salir de sus familias y de sus raíces.....es un mundo muy desigual en que vivimos, desafortunadamente.....

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  4. Wow! They must be so happy to see you grateful for the decision they made years ago! I can't even imagine what they have been through!

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  5. This was a great post!

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  6. What an amazing story! What a brave decision they made to leave everything they knew to come here & what an honor it must be for them to watch their sons honor that choice they made & make the most out of living here. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. inspiring - we all want to give our children a better life - thank you for sharing!

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  8. I read that story, Peter Petrasek's life is insane. I can understand why he'd leave everything to the U.S. I'm happy and proud to have been born here too. My mother's experience was different in that she came here requested by my aunt. She had no reason to come here as her life was comfortable in Dominican Republic but felt it was a stagnant life for her daughters there and wanted to provide a brighter future. I wouldn't have been born at all had she not come here anyway! :) It's a great sacrifice one that really takes its toll on our parents and I feel that's part of what gets ignored too. My mom is in a way, traumatized, from her having to leave my sisters when they were little and struggle here in a way she never had to back home. We don't talk about that though just the illegality of it all for a lot of the individuals. Thanks for sharing your story Angel and happy your parents story ended well, as many don't .. Have a great weekend Angel + Rachel! -Iva

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  9. I loved reading this...great post, heart warming! My grand parents immigrated from Russia to Canada in the early 1900,'s so I love reading these journeys!... Have a great weekend!

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  10. Completely amazing post - my grandparents moved from Cyprus to the UK for a better life after a war and I cannot thank them enough for the opportunities I have had because of it!

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  11. Whoaaa, no idea where my comment went.

    My parents are from the Philippines and I'm lucky enough to be born in California. Watching my mother struggle with her career and raising me and my brother at the same time shaped us to be hard working and determined just like she still is.

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  12. this was really interesting to read :) people must really come from a scary place if they are willing to risk breaking the law to enter another country. Reminds me of all the people who came from cuba 50 years ago on boats and hearing their stories when I visited Miami Florida.

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  13. This is beautiful, thank you for sharing! It's a great reminder to be grateful for the sacrifices made for us by others.

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  14. It's nice to know that you are proud to be an American and that you and your siblings are productive citizens. I'm tired of hearing about people who come here and don't appreciate America, don't know any of the history, don't choose to learn the language and aren't productive.

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  15. This is such a great post! Congrats to you for building a successful life and I'm proud of your parents for taking a risk to move to a new country and start over for the sake of their future children. I can only imagine how intimidating that must be and how much courage it takes. Beautiful story!

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  16. Nice to see Angel blogging! Thanks for being brave enough to share this.

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  17. Thank you for sharing this. My parents immigrated to the United States when I was young and thanks to them I am able to live the American Dream they sought after.

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  18. Such an inspiring story!!!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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  19. A big bow to your parents and what they had to ednure. Not many people have the guts to do this. If I could get away as far away as Bulgaria as possible, I would and I am planning to in the future. I am no patriot, I do not care for these things and I don't think a piece of land defines you, I want to have a better life and my country is not the one that can provide this.

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  20. Thank you for sharing this, Angel. Too often we only hear of the burden of immigration on our country, and villify every person who does it (illegally or not). In light of Donald Trump's hurtful remarks about Mexicans, I think it's important for people to share "success" stories of how immigration improved their lives and, as a result, the community.

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