I Am an Immigrant.

I hope you get this letter and it means something to you.

I wanted very much to come to America. America is unique because it is not based on who you are, but on what you believe. The Constitution is what I believe. I read it as part of my citizenship studies. I have read it several times since then. I hope you read it, too.

To me America means opportunity. Not a guarantee but a chance. A chance to do better for my family. I came here to earn enough to support my family and see to it that my children are educated.

I don’t speak English very well, in fact I needed help to write this letter. I try, but I keep thinking in my native tongue. I’ll keep trying.

My children, though, they speak English very well. I think it would be nice if they could speak both languages. Maybe use the old language at home, but they aren’t interested. However, I know that English is more important because that’s what all their friends speak. It’s what they need for school and later for work.

There are some things I miss about my old home, but I made the choice to come here. I think of myself as an American, not as belonging to any other country.

I am writing this letter to the future generations of my family, hoping that generations will read it. I ask that each generation pass it along. You probably know from which land I came, but it’s not important. It does not matter if I came to Jamestown with the first settlers from England, to California from Asia or with the Irish, or Germans or Polish through Ellis Island.

Treasure what you have in this country. I went through a lot to get here so that you would have opportunities. Opportunities that are available only to Americans.



One response to “I Am an Immigrant.

  1. Rick Martinez

    Now you’re talking, Steve…Estevan! What a beautiful thing to say…to remember…to remind us all of: “Americans aren’t always born here!” Many of the greatest contributors to American life “arrived here.” Many came to escape political or religious regimes that constrained their genius. And America fell heir to a radiance of their genius, and goodness. Yes, that includes you, Steve, and your parents and family…and mine, and probably most of your readership too.

    While I don’t want to go too bananas, the émigrés have been of such lofty achievement and possibility that the mere listing of the names is a sort of embarrassment, because it seems to reduce the irreducible. Émigrés, exiles, refugees from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Spain, Italy, and yes, even Poland–and elsewhere. The destiny of the arts and sciences and the very luggage of civilization these persons carried with them surpass understanding. In the years they have been In America in such multiplication, it seems as if they were some natural transcontinental cargo rather than an astonishment delivered by tragic history. America’s national psyche accommodated the savants–when we knew of them–with extraordinary and respectful generosity. Some arrived with their Nobel Prizes and many others gained them while here. Some appear in encyclopedias as Americans: American theoretical physicist, b. Ulm, Germany. Albert Einstein.

    Yet, America’s institutions and a wide hospitality wasn’t and still isn’t so cordial. Yes, we asked the “gifted” émigrés to continue to complete the self they achieved with such spectacular promise in the past. But, we often did not want them to be themselves, or to speak their own language. Many so-called “native” Americans were unwilling to understand and thus negated the émigré need for enclaves of grocery stores, restaurants and community centers. There’s no need for American guilt, though: It’s more a lack of international education and awareness.

    Today what’s most important, Steve, is your mention to listening world that
    you are an immigrant. And perhaps the most striking thing about the great influence of all of us as émigrés in America today is that it is marked by a certain equity. What we offered émigrés and America received in return is accomplished with a rare historical and human balance. Viva la difference!

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