This I Believe

Richard - Bushnell, Florida
Entered on March 13, 2007

I believe I am less of an American due to illegal immigration.

I am an Asian-American, born in Michigan and raised in Central Florida. My Father was a GI in Vietnam and married my mother, who is Thai, as the US exited the area in 1974. Growing up, my brother and I were 2 of the few non-black minorities in our rural school district. We were often times used as examples of the promising lives offered by the United States. We both subsequently came to appreciate our ethnicity and felt welcomed by the embrace of America’s diversity. Having assimilated into many ethnic groups, my brother and i felt united with all of our generation and never considered ourselves as subject to racial or ethnic stereotypes. As a citizen, I felt obliged to volunteer my being, both physically and spiritually to the founding precedences of AMERICA by joining the United States Navy and serving for 6 years. My brother felt the same and volunteered to the US Army. My pride and patriotism ran deep as I betrothed myself to the defense of the freedoms and opportunities that so benefited my mother and family. Many immigrant families feel the same gratitude and, in a futile attempt to repay OUR country, volunteer for the US Military.

As a member of the US Navy, I participated in many arenas including Counter Drug Operations in the waters surrounding Columbia, providing security to flotation of a Cuban refugee flotilla memorial in the straits of Florida, and providing security to the USS Kennedy as he crossed the Atlantic. While surrounded by the blackness of the open ocean on the fantail of the USS Mississippi beneath many moonless nights, I never felt I was doing enough to demonstrate my indebtedness to the country which had extended its open arms to my mother and family.

Today, I can not feel the pride I once had as a successful soil born citizen of immigrant origins. Illegal immigration and the national response to the dilemma have created a distrust toward all people that don’t fit the majority image, regardless of contribution, education, and patriotism. In daily encounters, I believe citizens, of all ethnicities are distrusted and subjugated based the misdoings of others. Today, I and many like me are included in the suspect population; forced to prover our belonging and evidence our citizenship.

As I enter any given establishment, I am not greeted as welcome. Strangers are hesitant to make conversation and, in the same community I was raised, reluctance and separation prevail. It is my belief that the impact of illegal immigration is seen on the surface as a color of skin and not as an economic or social burden. Because of the tremendous economic and social impacts of illegal immigration, America has turned its fears inwards toward its productive immigrant successes and isolated its most outspoken advocates. Because of this, I am not the patriot I once was. I am not willing to sacrifice myself to protect the opportunities of America for others as the benefits of belonging and acceptance have been revoked by the generalized discrimination of the American majority.