Immigrant stories old and new: What’s your highlight?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-0815_UHaul_Wikimedia.jpgDr. Wayne Baker is traveling himself this summer. This week, he welcomes Haley Reimer, who has been the Media Director for OurValues.
Here is her first report …

In a few weeks, I am packing up and moving across the country to start my first job out of college. This will be the first move I have done “on my own.” My friends and family who will be helping me pack boxes and load the U-Haul won’t appreciate me saying that—but I am on the road toward a new life without the many people and places that I call home.

Creating that new life seems overwhelming. But, just last year, according to the non-profit Migration Policy Institute, 1.8 million people made a far larger move than the one I am about to make. That’s the total estimate of men, women and children who immigrate to the United States each year from around the world through all avenues. You may be surprised to learn that the Institute estimates nearly 3 out of 4 of those people are entering legally.

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-0815_1844_Bundesarchiv_German_American_immigrants_to_Texas.jpgPACKING UP TO TRAVEL FAR: A U-Haul rental truck hits the road this summer, above. In this etching, German-American immigrants head West in the 1840s equivalent of a U-Haul. Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.But, this is not a story about the hot-button issue of illegal immigration. This is a story about the huge number of men, women and children who come to our country each year and must adapt to a new culture, learn a new language and build a new life in what had been a foreign country. We are talking here about the many human stories that come together each year in America to rewrite our collective national story.

There are many websites dedicated to sharing this kind of real-life story. Whether these stories are from 100 years ago or just last week, there are common threads woven through these experiences, including: uncertainty, determination and hope. 

The Community Integration Initiative is trying to build healthy relationships between newcomers and established families by interviewing immigrants and sharing their stories online. I encourage you to visit this website, read and listen to the stories of people like Alejandra Rico who describes how she felt when she came to the US from Mexico nine years ago:

“As an immigrant, you come and you miss everything: food, family, music, the language. But then, I don’t think we would be here if we didn’t have that sense of welcoming too. I feel welcomed by many people here… I think that having that experience has opened my eyes to the fact that, yes, there are people who are not happy about immigration and, yes, there are other people who get it. They get why people are immigrating and say we are lucky and we should be thankful for that—and our way to be thankful is to be welcoming to others.”

Are you seeing the larger picture here? Nearly every family living in America today is an immigrant family. Remembering our own stories—and discovering new stories—helps us see the faces in the statistics of global migration.

What is your family’s story of immigration?

Add a highlight of your story in the Comments area below!

Do you see common threads in immigrant stories?

Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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