“I first came to the US with my parents and two siblings when I was a child. After a while, we went back. I grew up between both cultures, but I always knew I didn’t want to live in Mexico. I went to law school. I wanted to change the world and help people, but in Mexico there was an awful culture of corruption. So if and how the laws are being applied to you depends on how much money you have.
I have lived in the United States continuously now for ten years. I still want to work towards the betterment of society and I'm working in politics. When I worked as an advisor for a Senator, I felt that my very existence there, in the Senate, with an employee badge, the fact that I worked there, and not in the kitchen, that made some people feel threatened.
It is people who are afraid of change that are also afraid of immigrants. My job also allowed me to work with other immigrants, they all contribute more than society is aware of. When immigrants feel welcomed, they thrive, they will build a life, start businesses, open restaurants and add to the local culture. I think there are more people in favor of migration than against. And the interesting thing is that even people against it will always make exceptions for immigrants they know. They value their immigrant neighbors and colleagues.
I think personal interaction is key. When we interact personally, we find out what we have in common: For many people they are things like love of their families, religion or the same football team. As an immigrant you touch people and you open up their minds.
My advice to people in general is: Look around you, if everyone in your group of friends looks like you and has the same background, then go out there and change something! Bring other people into your life, they will enrich it. I find it astonishing, how easy it is to capitalize on people's fears. Even decent people, who care about those around them can be influenced that way. To those people I say: Culture grows like knowledge, and your experiences will grow, even your own sense of belonging will grow.
Unless you are Native American, you are an immigrant to the United States. Unless you are the decedents of slaves, you or your family made a decision to pack up and come here, to build a new home. This country is built on immigration and we celebrate that. Thanksgiving is about a group of people starving and the locals sharing their food with them. I have been lucky. I had the chance to get a good education, and then was at the right place at the right time. But I know that there are people just as talented as me, or maybe more, who just need that chance and I feel it is my duty to help them so they can fulfil their potential for the betterment of our country.”
This is a story by Christine Strotmann