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.]]>

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17 replies on “Immigrant shares her story about growing up & living as a 'Dreamer' in Burien”

    1. Dear Great:
      Cite your source please. What countries would jail or execute a current citizen who has been given amnesty for having arrived illegally as a child? Didn’t you read her whole letter?? She states she is a college educated, tax paying home-owning citizen who benefited from a amnesty program instituted by Reagan. She IS a citizen who know feels unwelcome, judged and discriminated against due to the current anti-immigrant policies, ideologies and bigotry being propelled by the current administration. It is unhealthy, un-American and un-christian. Your taxes have been increased to give corporate welfare and tax cuts for the wealthy, and this administration is determined to continue that trend. Your animosity toward immigrants is misplaced. They may not look like you, but they are not your enemy.

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to decide to take the risk to provide information about your history. Hopefully, if open minded people learn about the DACA recipients and other immigrants, they will begin to change their negative judgments about them. We are lucky to have you as part of our community.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. People need to know who the undocumented immigrants really are. Unfortunately, you have a real reason for not giving your identity. Your story is much more typical than the vitriol spewed by some of the anonymous bloggers and the implications of the so called “Burien first ” candidates for city council.

  3. Great story! Don’t let a few idiots try to ruin your life, Burien is a great city despite the lowlifes trying to “Take Back Burien”. Give me a break, it’s not ours to take back, it belongs to all of us, especially you, a homeowner, and a taxpayer. Common sense and logic will always win out over hysteria and fear-mongoring.

  4. Thank you for sharing. It’s important to hear personal stories. It’s the only way to find common ground.

  5. Dreamer, You have 6 comments on your story, so far, and 5 are positive. The 1 negative comment has 16 thumbs up and 32 thumbs down. So, you have mostly friends and supporters around you. Burien is a good place.

  6. I am all for “dreamers” remaining in this country. All they need to do is become citizens and problem solved. There is no legal way to kick out a citizen.

  7. I realize I risk the wrath of some here who likely will hurl epithets like “racist” or xenophobe, hater, etc. simply because I ask questions and perhaps have a different take on the immigration issue than they do. That said, here goes:
    To the letter writer: I truly believe that the Dreamers who wish to become citizens should have the option to do so. Also, it is not right to deport them simply because they are here due to no fault or action of their own. I do think that there should be some kind of fee of some sort – not exorbitant, but a fee nonetheless.
    Part of what makes America great and separates us from other countries (from which people flee) is that we are a nation of rule by law, rather than rule by individuals. Our immigration laws should be passed by congress, not simply decreed by a president, whether Obama or Trump or any other president. If immigration policy was by decree by a president, then the next president can easily rescind that decree. America is a great country – as you rightly point out. But part of our greatness is rule of law, and respect for law. If we lose that, we go down a road that I fear ultimately leads to the kind of situation that people free **from**, not flee to.
    I am not for deporting Dreamers (or otherwise law-abiding non-Dreamer illegal aliens either, for that matter). But a sovereign country has every right to have laws governing who can enter and stay, and how one becomes a citizen, just like you have every right to decide who can enter your home.
    Finally, regarding your maga comment – did you know that one of Reagan’s campaign slogans was “let’s make America great again” ? He promised to turn things around and he did. America is great already, but we have to be careful lest we lose our greatness. Throughout history, freedom and liberty are generally the exception, not the rule.

      1. Yes – I am aware that they have no “path to citizenship” – which is why I am arguing that they need one. But there needs to be a fee and a process toward citizenship, as opposed to a blanket amnesty.

  8. My father was not born in the United States either. He had a very strong accent and an extremely foreign sounding name. We were never discriminated against. No one ever asked our family about our immigration status. Not once has anyone suggested to me my country would be better off if I “went home”. Perhaps that will change when I say I believe that is because my father was Danish not Mexican or African. I grew up poor, we had help from the government at times and tax payers paid for my first two years of college. I am truly sorry the experience of all immigrants does not mirror my family’s. My family now pays taxes that are often a bit shocking because we have done well and like you I happy to do so. Current times are putting a mirror up for us to see our values and I am ashamed of anyone in our community that has ever made you feel less than. I expected my comment will quickly be hidden by dislikes but I hope you read it before that happens. I am proud of the diversity of our community and want every Dreamer to be protected.

    1. It is very encouraging to see the responses to this woman’s story are far more positive than negative. 🙂

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