#LATISM: My Immigration Story

On its fifth anniversary, Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media (LATISM) is asking its community of top bloggers to share our immigration stories.

My story is not exceptional. It is one of millions since the founding of our nation: I was born in this country to parents who had immigrated to the U.S., arriving in San Francisco in 1967 with a suitcase, a few dollars, a toddler Big Bro, and hope. The possibility of “America” was planted in their hearts by their neighbors and friends–Fulbright scholars with deep Midwestern and Christian roots who were studying and teaching at La Universidad Nacional de Colombia, “La Nacional”–this Andean nation’s top university.

It is this chance meeting and a friendship that was forged over the course of two years that totally altered our lives. The Good Professor and his wife would later become my godparents. But they also became padrinos to our whole family by sponsoring us. Their act of faith allowed us to come to the land of opportunity when this was more than part of our national mythology but a reality–the U.S. economy was growing and certain industries and parts of the country virtually begged for people who wanted to work.

In one way or another, The Wise Latina Club is a testament to my godparents’ belief that my parents were “Americans” before becoming naturalized. It is a protracted love letter to my papis, thanking them for the courage and ganas to jump across the ultimate abyss with no safety net except their desire for better opportunities for their children.

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50 years of marriage and Mami and Papi are still dancing. Courtesy: @VivianaHurtado

These personal stories are important because in a political culture that treats governing a country like a primary race, the current tone has devolved to a toxic one that is meant to deface, debase, and dehumanize.

This media culture reduces a complex and human condition into binaries that can be articulated in a sound bite:

Good/Bad

Law breaker/Law Abider

Citizen/”Illegal”

Rich Nation/Poor Nation

Add social media where so much organizing and informing is involving the critical masses of constituents and voters needed to effect an overhaul to our current laws.

But the digital space also allows angry, lonely hold outs frightened of change to amplify their voice. Just today, I received an offensive and degrading tweet in response to my own retweets of the Latism #All4Immigration March.

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This actually happened, like really. Courtesy: @VivianaHurtado

You can tweet.

You can march.

You can research, write, read.

Only one way exists to counter this ignorance–combining all three: arming your mind with knowledge of laws, politics, and policies, so your heart can smartly lead the battle for action that will effect change.

I have been covering the immigration debate, in one form or another in my 12 years as a journalist, not in “wonky talk” but the way we chat, over a cafecito, always asking–how does this fit into the bigger picture?

Click to read more of my posts on politics and immigration.

What is your immigration story?

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