Opinion: I am proud to be the daughter of immigrants

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Opinion: I am proud to be the daughter of immigrants

Courtesy of Vanessa Alvarado.

Courtesy of Vanessa Alvarado.

Courtesy of Vanessa Alvarado.

Courtesy of Vanessa Alvarado.

Vanessa Alvarado

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“They Tried to Bury Us. They Didn’t Know We Were Seeds.” – Dinos Christianopoulos

Being the daughter of two immigrants has shaped many different aspects of my life, especially in today’s America. But I am proud to be their daughter.

Every immigrant my family knows who willingly left their home country to live in an entirely different one is a warrior. It takes an immense amount of strength and courage to leave your familiar, comforting home in pursuit of someplace new, someplace better, someplace safer.

I look at my parents in awe of the life they chose to build for themselves and their children’s futures. My mother and father, Berta and Roman, and then-newborn sister, Sintia, left their home in El Salvador in 1981 and moved to Boston to escape a civil war that created extreme poverty, inequality and crime. They wanted something better than what their home had to offer, but they also wanted to meaningfully contribute to a new home in the United States. El Salvador might never have allowed them to share their gifts with the world.

Every day, I am reminded of the privilege I have walking the streets of the U.S., and I know that privilege stems from my parents’ fearlessness and the love they have for their family.

I get to attend college because of their sacrifices. I don’t live in constant fear while walking the streets of my own home. And I get to live freely without the ever-present fear of death, an opportunity they were not able to enjoy in their adolescence.

In recent years, the amount of hate and anger directed toward immigrants in the United States has gotten more aggressive. The way immigrants are taunted and physically abused is disgusting. Even in recent weeks, there have been incidents at the U.S., Mexico border in which mothers and their children have been teargassed, abused and taken advantage of.

Seeking asylum is not a crime. All humans should have the right to flee from danger. If the United States is able to offer help, why are we not willing to give it?

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, more than 1,000 sexual abuse complaints have been filed this year against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel. Abusing those who seek asylum is inhumane and barbaric. Asylum-seekers are no less human than you or I. They’re immigrants who genuinely need support.

Immigrants have enriched our daily lives in hundreds of ways. Thanks to Levi Strauss, we have jeans. Thanks to James Hoban, we have the White House. Thanks to Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, we have The Statue of Liberty. The list of immigrants’ contributions to our society isn’t short.

My parents are constantly thankful for being able to live in the United States, and they demonstrate their gratefulness, in part, by positively impacting their community. They invite friends and neighbors in Boston to enjoy their latin culture and allow themselves to be immersed in American culture.

Being the daughter of immigrants fuels my passion to continue fighting for the rights of those who bring their talents, inventions and cultures to the United States. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else and neither can my parents.

I am amazed by the courage they demonstrated when deciding to move to a different country, in search of a better and safer life.

I am a reminder of a dream they held, a pursuit they endured and an extraordinary show of bravery. I am proud to be the daughter of immigrants.

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