EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story is published with permission from a Burien-based ‘Dreamer’ who first posted it to Facebook on Friday, Sept. 8. Seeing how immigration is a hot-button issue in Burien, we thought this first-person account was worth sharing with our readers:
I am a little nervous to share my story because quite honestly I am a bit afraid of some of the TBB (Take Back Burien) members who make offensive statements about immigrants. I am choosing to share only because I hope that those who seek to make hasty judgments about the moral character of immigrants may consider an alternative perspective.
I was brought to America by my parents as a toddler. My parents were having trouble feeding me and themselves, no matter how much they worked. They left out of desperation with much fear about leaving behind everything that was familiar — all of their family, friends, their language, and their community, in search of work so that we would no longer be starving or near starving. Of course I have no memory of this. I have just been told stories.
I grew up like any other kid in America. I loved riding bikes, reading stories, eating candy, and I loved the fourth of July because back then, it was legal to light your own fireworks. In K-12, the teachers couldn’t pronounce my name, so they changed it to Heidi. My family accepted that; we just wanted to fit in. I always got good grades and was doing so well that the teachers recommended I be in honors classes, but the school administration made excuses as to why I couldn’t be in honors classes — I would have been the only non-white kid in the class. I had to fight to get in, but ultimately made it in.
My family was hard working, but poor, so they could not help me fund my college education. Because of my good grades, I paid my way through college on scholarships and loans. My graduate/professional degrees were paid in the same manner. I am still paying on my student loans. I will still be paying on them until the day I die, I think, but hell, I am grateful for the loans since I wouldn’t have been able to attend college any other way.
I am a homeowner in Burien. I pay all of my taxes. I have to cut a check to the IRS every year. I donate to charitable causes. I attend church (although not very often sadly). Though I do grumble a bit about it, I am happy to pay my taxes and to contribute to my community and to my country.
I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. Immigrants love this country just as much as the people who seek to exclude us. We are here to contribute. America is great and doesn’t need to be made great again. And just in case you are wondering, I am a citizen, but only because of President Reagan’s amnesty.
And I LOVE Burien. After my house was burglarized recently, my friends kept suggesting that I sell my house and buy elsewhere, but I always respond with explaining how great Burien is and how much I love my community. We have our problems, but every community does.
Thanks for reading this and sorry for the long diatribe.]]>