Saturday, April 29, 2006

Above all things, I am an immigrant.

Some time go I made the conscious decision to quit reading the news. I've always thought of myself as very well-informed person and wonderful though that is because I am of the belief that information is power, after a while I got tired of bad news. It seemed to me like everything I ever read or saw on the news was one set of bad news after the other so when I quit my job last fall, I decided that I wouldn't read the news until there were some good news.

Needless to say that hasn't happened but still, every once in a while I take a peek at
CNN and, of course, my fellow bloggers do a fine job of keeping me informed.

Very recently my brother started
his own blog. This is a person who every morning when he wakes up, he sits down to read the paper while he has his coffee and then goes online to check just in case he missed anything. He is very well informed when it comes to current events, and like me he has an opinion about EVERYTHING. I started reading his blog because he is after all my brother but I've been reading it religiously because he is so smart it pains me.

Last night I came home at an ungodly hour but because I wasn't sleepy, I sat down in front of the computer and stumbled across
this post by him. This is when I found out about the whole National Anthem issue. I read and read and as I was reading I just kept thinking to myself "whaaaaat?!?!?" so after I finished I read the news and then kept on reading.

I have never been so saddened and embarrassed by anyone or anything in the world as I was of "my people" last night and have been every minute since.

For the past couple of weeks I have been hearing about the whole
immigration situation and my position on the subject has always been that of following procedures. As an immigrant myself, I understand that the decision to look for a better life in a foreign country is a difficult one and that because of it, immigrants deserve our utmost respect especially because often times it is immigrants who help a nation move forward. But I also understand that if you are an immigrant you are a guest of the country in question and as such you should try to assimilate and live in an orderly fashion.

American immigration laws have always seemed very leniant to me. Even the act of being an immigrant in the US has seemed too lackadaisical to me. Back when I lived in Germany, I worked in the foreign service and I remember clearly meeting people who after only a few months there would speak German fluently because otherwise German authorities wouldn't so much as look at their paperwork. I always thought to myself that this was organized immigration. I learned German because my dark hair and eyes weren't exctely going to help me blend in, and vegetarian me tried schnitzle and goulash souppe because when in Rome you do as the Romans.

German is an extremely hard language to learn and people learned it. English is probably one of the simplest, poorest languages in both grammer and vocabulary and yet, people manage to be exposed to it for years and years and years without even learning the meaning of the simplest terms.

I have always believed that when you go to someone's home you abide by their rules although you can certainly still keep your values and morals. How can you expect sympathy for your cause if you go to a foreign land and try to make the land assimilate to you? what's more, you take the national anthem, something that's sacred to each land from here to China and decide to sing it in a foreign tongue just to make a point! As far as I'm concerned, that's worse than burning a flag because you burn a flag in protest, but modifying your host land's national anthem is a form of disrespect. That's a message loud and clear: We'll make YOU accomodate to US.

I grew up in a
town where Hispanics were basically my family and I. By the time I graduated from high school in 1996, the number of Hispanics and African Americans in our school could be counted with the fingers on my hands and Ivan, Gus and I were 3 of them. Despite the fact that we had to deal with the "issues" brought about by the darker tint of our skin and the curls in my hair, we were respected and were treated fairly because we assimilated. If at home we lived with traditional Hispanic values and memories of a homeland we never really knew, when we left the house it was understood that if we had to say the pledge of allegiance or whatever else, it was something that had to be done because once again, when in Rome...

I understand the helplessness that the millions of people who would be affected by the proposed immigration laws must feel at this time, and when I heard about the
day without an immigrant bit I thought that was a cool idea but now I think that in their desire to make an even bigger point, they are going to shoot themselves in the foot. This "our anthem" nonsense is disrespectful even to me and I really hope that whoever is responsible for it will rethink it because even if contrary to the US belief we are in fact Americans, in the US, as immigrants, we are guests and as such we should if nothing else show a little respect.


Libélula said...

I couldn't agree more. When I read about it, I thought the same thing. Good Post, sweets.

P.S. I have always loooved the word "Lackadaisical" don't hear it too often.

Juliabohemian said...

kudos to you for "assimilating." It's refreshing to hear this pov from an actual immigrant.
If more people had the "when in Rome..." concept down we wouldn't be in this mess. I certainly wouldn't move to another country and expect special treatment. Good luck finding another country that would be willing to give it!

_android[ette] said...


Tim Rice said...

I admire you with your well-thought out position. Excellent post. I know the immigration issue isn't an easy issue to solve; but as you said when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Grant said...

I agree with you. That's what I like about most of the Asian immigrants I've met - they learn the language, work hard, and contribute to our country while still maintaining their culture and morals. I've never met one who insisted I change to accomodate them.

I've always thought part of the problem was that the US doesn't have an officially declared language. It's expected that most people speak English, but that's not backed by any of our laws. Our founding fathers goofed by not putting that on the books, and no modern politician with a Latino constituency would have the backbone to raise the issue.

jackt said...

Just found your blog and wow this post is awesome. Such a complicated issue but I definitely agree with what you said.