Immigrants Of America

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Jorge, 67.

My mother was born in 1914 and my father in 1918, 70 years after the Mexican-American War. Back then they would come back and forth between the United States and Mexico. They were migrant workers and they’d follow the migrant trail. My father would work in the fields as a small child. He became orphaned at 14. His mother died and his father split, left him with his brothers and sisters. This was during the Depression. Here’s this child having to—not even raise, but just make sure that these kids ate—and it didn’t go well. He ended up having to put kids in orphanages, he lost track of his sister. He became a cement mason. At the time, for Chicanos, that was the only thing you could do—you could be a laborer or a cement mason, never a carpenter, definitely never an electrician. I was living in LA and the neighborhood was changing. My best friend was this white boy and we happened to both be very bright. We played but we also did science projects, history projects. In those days they put you in reading groups and in the 5th grade I was put in with the Mexican kids and I remember some of the kids from the other group saying, “What are you doing in that group? That’s for dummies.” When I got to junior high, more segregation happened. We were tracked. It was done intentionally and I would say, unconsciously. It was during that time I hated being Mexican. I remember telling my mother, “If I had a knife I would cut all the Mexican blood out of me.” Then the Sixties came, the civil rights movement, and I graduated in ’68. I wanted to join the military and fight for our country and all that macho stuff. I remember the first question they asked us in college—What is the status quo? Who’s in and who’s out? That was the beginning of a big transformation for me. I started to realize the oppression and the racism in this country. Now for me the American Dream is a bunch of bullshit. The American Dream to me is about oppression. It works for certain people and not others. 
#immigration #immigrants #american #Americans #united #UnitedStates #USA #americandream #Mexico #mexican #borders #instagram #instagood #follow #makeportraits #photooftheday #picoftheday #human
Luis, 27.

I was born about twenty minutes from Mexico City. I came here at the age of 4 with my mom and my sister who was 3. I still remember my dad taking me to the living room and telling me that we were going away on a trip but he couldn’t come with us, it was just going to be my sister, myself and my mom, and he was going to meet us up later. He said we were going somewhere really far. I remember not understanding but I remember crying a lot. After that we took a plane to Tijuana and then we drove through the border. My dad had it tougher, he got caught a couple times before he ended up meeting us. We’re all here now, thankfully. We’ve been able to stick together always as a family wherever we moved. I just applied for DACA last year so I’ve only benefitted from it since then, but my life drastically changed in that year. I’m a computer technician and before I didn’t have access to better paying jobs, I had to work at low, small computer shops, which as soon as they know you’re undocumented they abuse that. So I’ve been able to work at jobs where I have benefits—now I have health insurance, dental, all these things that were just kind of surreal, now I have them. I waited this long to get [DACA] out of personal politics; I always thought it wasn’t enough, but I got to a point in my life where I didn’t have any other options but to get it. I thought I was doing it fine without it but you know life just throws you a spin sometimes, so it was out of need, not choice. I’m definitely hopeful, you have to be, what’s the other option? What’s interesting is how much people want to help out. People just want to come here and live a life of dignity, and who doesn’t want to get behind that? 
#immigration #immigrants #american #Americans #united #UnitedStates #USA #daca #dreamers #americandream #Mexico #mexican #children #borders #instagram #instagood #follow #makeportraits #photooftheday #picoftheday #humanity #love #thanksgiving #happythanksgiving #immigrantrights #weareallimmigrants #defenddaca #immigrantswelcome #grateful #family
Gonzalo, 29. 
I was born in Mexico, Guerrero. I came here in 1999. I was eleven. My parents were already here, so I came with a group of people from our little town. We first tried to cross through the desert but the van got stuck and we had to push the van, and at one point the coyote was like, “We’re not going to make it, and we don’t have any food or water so our best thing is just to get caught. Because we’re gonna die out here.” So we got caught and they sent me back. The second time my dad was desperate for me to get here so he paid extra for me to cross what we call La Linea--crossing the border at the checkpoint. People use other people’s documents and at the time they didn’t really question as long as you had documentation. Sometimes I wish I had documentation, but if I did, would my life have turned out the way it has been? I don’t know. A lot of first generation kids out here, most of them take their citizenship for granted. A lot of my friends who I grew up with were citizens, some of them ended up in jail, doing life in prison, others became parents at a young age. A few took advantage and went to college. There’s a lot of possibilities of how I could have turned out. If someone asks me if I’m undocumented I tell them. But I don’t say it otherwise. I’m a filmmaker first. I don’t even say I’m a Dreamer. A Dreamer goes to sleep and dreams and that’s where you get stuck. I’m not that. I want people to see us for who we are. If a kid is studying law, treat him as if he’s a student of law. If someone’s studying to be a doctor, treat them as a doctor! Don’t feel sorry for them. My mom always told me, “Don’t ever feel sorry for somebody because you’re cursing them. If you feel sorry for them you’re not empowering them.” #immigration
#immigrants #american #Americans #united #UnitedStates #USA #daca #dreamers #filmmaker #americandream #Mexico #mexican #children #borders #instagram #instagood #follow #makeportraits #photooftheday #picoftheday #humanity #love
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I got here in a trunk. I always tell people that was the first time I died and came back to life, because at some point my face was dripping in sweat it was going into my eyes and it was burning and I remember being nine and I remember praying to God and being like, “Look dude, I’m gonna stop breathing now, and it’s up to you if you let me make it or not.” I remember closing my eyes and drifting, and then when I came back I was at a parking lot. And then that was the beginning of everything and nothing. Starting school was just fake it til you make it, blend in, blend in, learn the language, act like other people, but really I did not identify like that. The cartoons the kids watched, the traditions, everything was like, I can’t connect at all and I feel like that was literally the end of my childhood. I had all this confusion up until high school and then I realised, I can’t keep pretending. I think I’m old enough to really make my own identity. I feel like I can’t do it from scratch cause that beginning of me was left in Mexico, but how do I make that new identity here? And then activism happened, and I feel like I’ve become an advocate for immigrant rights—not that I don’t want to, but that’s just how I’ve been identified because of my experience and the way I’ve been able to navigate my life. That’s something that people look up to or that inspires them, so that’s what I’ve become. But in some sense that’s a scary experience because it’s not something that I’m purposefully doing and I actually don’t know really what I’m doing. I don’t want to influence people’s decisions in the wrong way, if that makes sense. Everyone has their own experience and I’m just navigating as I go. 
#immigration #immigrants #daca #dreamer #doer #americandream #american #Americans #USA #unitedstates #united #humans #stories #Mexico #mexican #borders #family #solidarity #losangeles #instagood #instadaily #photography #photooftheday #picoftheday #love #follow #undocumented #unafraid #instagram #makeportraits
Denea, 23. 
I was born in Belize. I came to the US at the age of 7. My parents didn’t come because the visa process for Central America—they say it’s “a process” but it’s often non-existent. When I came to this country I was told by family members to keep my head down, finish what you have to finish and move on. And for a while I was ok with doing that, but in my senior year in high school, I started to apply for colleges and learn exactly what it meant to be an undocumented person and the limitations it placed upon me. Before that I never felt that anything would be a hindrance to me, because I always worked hard. But then you see that it’s something beyond your control, beyond what I can fight for or research or do—that was very frustrating. When I was applying for scholarships, that’s when it really hit me. I was denied, not on the basis of my GPA, not on the basis of extracurricular activities, but simply because I couldn’t check that citizenship box. I was the top of my class but it didn’t matter. My principals and my counselors had to come together and be like, “We can’t have our top student not get into a university.” It was at that time that somebody sat me down and said, “We can’t help you if we don’t know.” I hadn’t told anyone, I didn’t confide with even my best of friends about that. It’s not something that comes up in middle school because you don’t have to give your social security number—it’s just not relevant. But when you start to see the markers of citizenship—people being able to apply for a job, a driver’s license—simple things like that. Watching my friends get it when I couldn’t was part of my realization process. But as a DACA recipient, as a recent college graduate, I have to check my own privilege and recognize that there are opportunities that I’ve been privy to that many people within my same community would not be able to say that they had access to. Our liberation is bound to one another. If you can’t be free, I can’t be free, and vice versa. 
#immigrants #immigration #Americans #americandream #USA #belize #undocumented #undocublack #daca #dreamers #citizen #ucla #liberation #privilege #makeportraits #instagood #instagram #follow
Rudy, 28.

I was born in California. My mother was born in Venezuela, my father was born in New York. My father’s father is a Russian Jew and his mother was Irish and my mom’s ancestry is mostly Portuguese, but I never really was taught any of the traditions of my family, I never even learned Portuguese or Spanish, even though those were my mother’s first two languages. Identifying myself has always been a hard one because of how much I’ve moved around. I lived in Paris when I was four years old, then New York, then Mexico City, and I finished High School in Beijing. If I’m anything, I’m some weird, nebulous melting pot of American culture. I do not like most American values, I don’t like the American political system, I don’t like what America does in other countries. I don’t really feel American at all. I have no national pride and it’s never felt like a home. I long for a place to belong and I don’t feel like I have that, so it feels lonely. It feels like I don’t have a people, I don’t have a tradition. I can see in other people a sense of security that comes from belonging. I feel like an outsider looking in. On the other hand it makes traveling much easier because there aren’t ties in the same way. I don’t feel like I’m bound to people, which gives me a freedom to pursue things I want to do. There’s a sense of freedom and movement. And it’s made me not afraid of being alone. I think a healthy life has both. There are a lot of close-knit families and groups where doing anything different is frowned upon and that can hurt people, but the danger of not having roots anywhere is that you can be a leaf blowing around. You can do all this stuff but there’s no place for you to land. 
#immigration #immigrants #americandream #american #Americans #USA #unitedstates #united #humans #stories #venezuela #portugal #irish #ireland #russian #russia #jewish #borders #family #history #belonging #instagood #instadaily #photography #photooftheday #picoftheday  #follow #instagram #weareallimmigrants #makeportraits
Elizeth, 21. 
I was born in Michoacan, Mexico. I came here around a year old. In Mexico our family is very poor, my parents struggled to make ends meet, so like most families they came here in search of the “American Dream.” They came illegally. My dad was one of those folks who walked across the border. He’s told me about his experiences and they’re very traumatic because he said that they would see people dehydrated, dying. I get so emotional about it because these are people who have families. People like to dehumanize folks but these are people, they have stories. My dad was 20 when he got here and he had to leave his mom and his six brothers and sisters behind. My grandma passed away when I was a senior in high school and it was really hard to not be able to be there at the funeral or say your last goodbyes. I think that people don’t take that into consideration, that we’re people. We hurt. We love. I’m very privileged that I’ve had DACA—it really shielded me, but I also want to acknowledge the fact that because I have this privilege of DACA, I want to stand up and advocate for those who don't. I have friends who dropped out of high school because they were undocumented and they did not meet the age requirement to apply for DACA and I want to stand up for them because they deserve to be here just as much as I do. I struggle with the Dreamer narrative because they try to mould us to fit this model and if we don’t fit the mould we’re considered to be un-American. What about my parents, what about my friends, what about folks who have already been detained, been deported, lost their families, lost their jobs, lost their lives? What about them?

#immigration #immigrants #daca #dreamers #americandream #american #Americans #USA #unitedstates #united #humans #stories #Mexico #mexican #borders #family #solidarity #losangeles  #instagood #instadaily #photography #photooftheday #picoftheday #love #follow #undocumented #unafraid #instagram #weareallimmigrants #makeportraits
David, 47.

I was born in Guatemala. People don’t believe me because they think people from Guatemala are usually short and I’m 6’3.” I’m from Guatemala City and we come from tall. My dad used to say his grand grandad was from Madrid. I was eighteen when I came to the United States. At that time there was a war in Guatemala so either I could join the militia or the military—either way it was no good, so I decided to come here with my brother to evade the war. I paid someone $3,000 and he drove me. It took five days to go through Mexico and then I crossed the line illegally from Tijuana. When you’re eighteen years old you think you can do anything. When I think about what I went through, it was scary, but at the time it was like an adventure. Being here has changed my life. Where I’m coming from you can have goals but there is no help; it’s so hard to go even to university. Here if you have goals your dreams can come true. To be honest, when I got here I didn’t really have any goals, I was just trying to get out of my country. I definitely made some bad decisions. I had no family here, so I had to learn the hard way. I’m a single dad, I have a fifteen year old boy whose GPA is 4.3. He’s a good student, a good boy, he has goals—that’s my bigger goal. Now he has bigger opportunities than I had. He respects me as his dad but he treats me as his best friend. I’m a good example for my daughter also. She’s 23 years old, in Texas. And I’m learning how to enjoy the simple things in life. When I go run in the mornings I see dolphins, you can smell the good energy from the ocean. My life used to be around money, now it’s more about other kinds of things. 
#immigrants #immigration #America #Americans #USA #UnitedStates #united #Mexico #Guatemala #Guatemalan #Spanish #AmericanDream #goals #Tijuana #rolemodel #simplethings #borders #family #photo #photography #stories #oralhistory #picoftheday #instadaily #instagood #beautiful #humans #portrait #history #opportunity
Brian, 32.

I was born in New Jersey. My parents were born in Iran. My father came to the US in his early twenties, in 1972. My mom came in ‘74-’75. My father came to the States to build a bit of a life first and then went home to Iran where he was set up with my mom. They went out and fell in love and he brought her back here; she left everything behind. My father always had a dream of coming to the States for better opportunity. He came from a very poor family in Iran and he didn’t want that life anymore. Most Iranian Jews left for religious persecution—after the revolution everybody in my family left. My father worked some very simple jobs at first, but then he went to the jewelry district in Manhattan—his father’s trade was working with jewelry in Iran—until he eventually went on to start his own business. I identify mostly as American. My parents named me Brian for a reason, they wanted to leave the past behind. I’m not too involved in the Persian community—it can be a bit patriarchal and misogynistic. Luckily my parents aren’t totally that way. I have four sisters and the three older ones are all attorneys--they were taught to be independent women. We’ve left that part of our culture behind, in a good way. I’ve never been there but I’ve heard so many beautiful, beautiful things. I can’t go for religious reasons—my father escaped by going to Israel and getting Israeli citizenship and then came to the States, so by being the child of an Israeli citizen I can’t go to Iran. But I would love to go. The people are incredibly hospitable, the landscape is beautiful, the art, the poetry. But if I went to Iran I would be stoned for being gay. Normally I’m pretty charged about gay rights and gay issues, but a part of me doesn’t believe it would be that bad. Iranians are some of the most educated, open-minded people and I think there’s a disconnect between the people themselves and the government. A part of me wants to be optimistic that it wouldn’t be that bad on a one-to-one basis.

#immigrant #immigrants #immigration #unitedstates #usa #american #america #americandream #iran #iranian #gay #gayrights #jewish #judaism #israel #freedom #opportunity #family #identity
Shea, 74.

I was born in Oregon. My dad was born in Oregon too, on a homestead. My ancestry is Irish, but I don't know what else, probably German. I was never exposed to any communists or socialists before I left home, which was pretty soon after I graduated high school. I hitchhiked to San Francisco and ended up in the Fillmore; I didn't know there was such a world. Nobody had any money—we were all very poor but I didn't feel poor. Now we are of the protected many, income-wise, and socially and all that, but I'm much more aware of politics around the world. I've travelled, I know now, but I didn't know any of that. I really was incredibly uneducated. I hate what this country is doing and has done for years and years all over the world. I demonstrate whenever there's a demonstration, but whoever makes up the power—the people who want to send jets over there, and build a wall—I mean I've been to Mexico, I've been to Latin America, how could you? But I didn't have that exposure, even in any kind of literature when I was growing up. It wasn't until I got out into the world on my own and met all kinds of people that I realized. Right now it's hard to be hopeful. When you look at things like health care, times are kind of grim. That's what I would hope for: free health care for everyone.

#immigrant #immigrants #immigration #unitedstates #usa #american #america #americandream #ireland #irish #germany #german #oregon #sanfrancisco #sf #sanfran #fillmore ore #freedom #opportunity #healthcare #horizons #humanity #awareness #makeportraits #photography#photo #instadaily #instagood #picoftheday #follow
Robert, 69.

I was born in the Bronx. My mother’s parents were Romanian. My grandfather was a shepherd who had a stutter and my grandmother was a Romanian maiden. They got married somewhere around 1900 and then one of his brothers immigrated to New York, so there was some back and forth about the promised land. My grandfather came here in 1911 fully anticipating that he would bring his wife and five kids. They were Orthodox Jews living in a shtetl in Transylvania. So anyway, they were communicating, he was sending money—he worked in a bakery, low-level jobs cleaning stables or something. Then the war comes and communication is shut off. As it happens four of the five kids died of starvation. The story is she sold her wedding ring for a sack of flour. The one survivor was my uncle. Remarkably, after the war my grandmother and grandfather got back in contact and in 1922, eleven years after he’d come to the US, the message was, “You’ll have ten minutes to get everything you need because the cart’s going to show up.” All their wealth was in their sabbath candlesticks and goose down feathers—that was packed, the cart shows up, they get on the cart, they get taken to the Black Sea and they’re on a ship. So my grandmother and my uncle get here in 1922. My grandmother is forty-two and my mother is born a year later. She lived to be 94, which is how old my mother is now. She was made out of cast iron. When I think about how amazing the trip was, and how if it wasn’t for the adventurous willingness I just wouldn’t be around, because all the relatives who were still there got wiped out—it’s pretty incredible that it happened.

#immigrant #immigrants #immigration #unitedstates #usa #american #america #americandream #romania #romanian #jewish #orthodox #adventure #newyork #bronx #newyorkcity #frontiers #freedom #opportunity #family #tradition #humanity #possibility #makeportraits #photography #photo #instadaily #instagood #picoftheday #follow