American Dream: Illegal Immigrants

Cynthia - Fort Worth, Texas
Entered on December 18, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

The American dream is sought for by many in search of a place to be free and the possibility of obtaining prosperity through hard work. The civil war that broke out in El Salvador in 1980 was the beginning of the greatest journey ever for Jose and Norma Sorto. My father, a young boy, was forced to become a man. He was forced to immigrate into a foreign country because his beloved El Salvador had reached such turmoil that his life was at stake. My mother had to make that same decision upon realizing she was pregnant. They both wanted a better future for their family and El Salvador couldn’t provide for them the economic stability they needed.

My father had been in the United States for years and wanted my mother to come. His only wish was to give her and his child a better life. He knew that if I was born in the United States I would have a greater opportunity than they did. My mother’s journey is one of courage and strength. She was scared and had reservations because she heard that so many people were murdered or drowned. The risks were extremely high. She knew she could die in the desert. But her and my father’s dreams for a better life made her do the unthinkable. My parents struggle is one of admiration and empowerment. Fortunately, for my parent’s and me their story has a happy ending.

However, on a daily basis we are tackled with various levels prejudice and discrimination that we place on those without power in our society. Currently, there are so many different feelings towards immigration. Our country is split. Some feel that we owe nothing to these people and that they should immediately leave our country while others look at history and see the value of the immigrant worker and feel we should protect them.

Illegal immigrants are faced with many obstacles and inhuman treatment simply because they fear deportation. They become vulnerable to abuse and become disempowered because they think they don’t have rights. They are forced to work in deplorable conditions, live in overcrowded houses, and constantly feel lost in a language barrier. University of Tulsa professor, Andrew Wood, even goes on to compare the prejudice and discrimination against the illegal immigrants as “the bad old days of Jim Crow, when African-Americans were the target of hate groups, mob violence and racist state laws. The only difference today is that the new victims are Hispanic” (Wood, 2008).

Regardless of the passing of laws to determine what we want to do with illegal immigrants and how we want to control not just the southern border but all borders in the United States, we can not ignore or forget that they too are humans. We cannot treat them as we once treated slaves like “cheap labor” and “prized merchandise.” We must treat them as human beings who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. This I believe.