In the interest of countering the seemingly endless sob stories of illegal aliens that pepper the newspapers and TV news, I shall offer you the story of a REAL immigrant. A story that has been repeated over and over in our great country, but which you don't hear because the focus is on illegals and forcing us to give them amnesty. Along with free health care, automatic citizenship for their babies that they drop this side of the border as anchors, education, in-state tuition, rights, rights, rights--none of which they are entitled to.
My immigrant story is a bit different. This young man loved to travel, and backpacked all over Europe from his home base of West Berlin, staying in youth hostels and seeing the sights. He was actually born in Elbing, West Prussia, in 1941. This is now Poland. The youngest of four children, his father was in the German Army and was lost in the war. He has no memory of him, and the family didn't know until the early 1990s that he perished in a Russian POW camp at the age of 33. The young man's mother and siblings and he were in East Berlin until after the war, and then became refugees to West Berlin, where he grew up. Times were tough. They were very poor. His mother worked long hours in a bar owned by her second husband, who was a very kind man and helped raise the four children. Still, there was often not enough to eat, no new clothes, a flat with no hot water, no shower, etc. Our young man worked on construction after leaving high school after the 10th grade (which is typical there). He became a cement finisher after an apprecticeship. He rode his bicycle to work through snow, rain, etc. It was what it was.
At 18, he met an American who offered to sponsor him if he wanted to see America. And of course he did. Unfortunately, the man who sponsored him turned out to have ulterior motives--but at least the young man was able to come to the U.S. to visit--or so he thought. He went to upstate New York, looked around, and couldn't believe his eyes. Stayed at the YMCA (yes, it was already like that), with hot showers and amenities he had never seen. He thought he'd like to stay a bit longer! So he applied for a green card, so he could WORK. And work he did. Ran a merry-go-round. Washed dishes. Picked tomatoes. Finally, he was able to get a job on construction as a hod carrier. Joined the Union. Met lots of friends, all colors and all backgrounds. He was loving America!
And then he talked to his older brother, an engineer in Munich. His brother challenged him to do more with his life, and since they were always competitive, our young man (we'll call him Al) decided to stay longer and try to go to college. Keep in mind that he had only gone through the 10th grade in Germany, and not many schools here would consider admitting him without 12 grades. Of course, we know now that 10th grade in Germany was and is no doubt still far above what 12th grade is here. Nevertheless, only one school accepted him--the University of Arizona. He became a foreign student there at the age of 21. By that time, he had saved enough money to drive across country in his beloved TR 3, which he had bought with his earnings. Someone had stolen the top, so he drove all the way to Arizona with no roof. He did not ask anyone for help, money or a free ride.
In Arizona, Al rented a room and paid out-of-state tuition for a year. He was admitted as a foreign student but never bothered to go to the Foreign Student Office, probably because he didn't really want anything from them. He found a job which he kept the whole five years he was in school, working for a Title Company doing microfilm transfers at night. He was advised that Civil Engineering would be a good major for him, but years later he concluded that what he really should have been was an architect. Still, Civil Engineering offered many opportunites.
After a year of paying out-of-state tuition, he made his case to the Powers That Be and was declared a resident.
When he was a junior, he met an American girl on her 21st birthday in one of the college bars. She loved the accent and the European charm. Their values meshed in spite of the difference in their backgrounds. She was an Air Force brat whose father joined up before WW II, a baby boomer born after the war in which their fathers were on opposite sides.
At one point, soon after Al and she started dating, he decided to apply for citizenship. It had become clear he wanted to stay and make the United States his permanent home. It turned out NOT to be a piece of cake. The judge was a crabby old goat who refused Al's request due to the fact that he had several speeding tickets (that darned little TR 3). So much for amnesty. He came here legally, was working and going to college. Not good enough. He would have to wait. And slow down.
After a year of dating, Al proposed. He could afford only a quarter carat diamond, but she was thrilled. Her parents were pleased. He graduated with his first semester of really good grades--because she worked during that semester and supported him so he could quit his job and --for once--just focus on school. Shortly before graduation, he accepted a job with an engineering firm in Massachusetts. They set a date for their wedding in August, 1968. He would go to Massachusetts with a blank check she wrote him to cover expenses. Three months later he would return and marry her, and they would spend the next four years in western Massachusetts, listening to typical New Englanders talk endlessly about themselves, but also finding treasured friendships with New Englanders who were anything but typical, and who were fascinated by the story of this immigrant who came from somewhere else, but who fit in so seamlessly. E pluribus unum, as it were.
After three years, there was a baby. She was the embodiment of pure joy. At the time she was born, four other wives of fellow engineers at Al's workplace had baby girls as well. A boom of sorts. Just as an aside, not one of those women put their precious little babies in day care. We all stayed home, we hung out together, and we took care of our own children. We didn't know it, but apparently we were quite radical. It would not have occurred to Al to wonder when his wife would go back to work so he could have more stuff. Never. In the proud American tradition, he supported his wife and child and basked in the glow of being the provider for his family.
Fast forward several decades and two more baby girls. Citizenship eventually happened when Daughter Number One was six months old. This time, success. Sadly, around that time, Al's stepfather passed away. A man broken by the war so long ago, he did his best, but never quite recovered from the losses suffered during a war in which he had no direct part. His heart broken, his health failed. But Al's mother continued on, for many years. He no doubt inherited some of his tenacity from her. With three daughters in tow, he moved from job to better job and worked tirelessly to realize the American dream for his family. No handouts, no entitlements, no expectations. Thank you America, for the opportunity. Period.
Al raised three lovely girls, with the usual hair-raising moments and periods of not knowing what the heck was going on with all those tears and alll that drama. In other words, normal life with three girls and a wife. And two female dogs, and a female hamster. Lots of drama, yes, but also immeasurable joy and fun and happiness. He, of all the siblings, produced not only three daughters but also six grandchildren. His family in Germany is gradually dying out. There is only one granchild there, and she is half Chinese. It is all going away, because socialism breeds selfishness and immaturity. Why marry? Why have pesky children who require CARE? No, no. We will dun the government for money to which we feel gloriously entitled. Trouble is, the money is about all gone.
Our immigrant is retired now. He putters in his beautiful courtyard and back yard. He cleans the pool and feeds the birds. He is quite artistic and will possibly recreate a scene from Monet's Giverny in his courtyard. He watches his grandchildren nearly every week while their mothers try to help their husbands earn a living in this depressed economy. He would like to build a music room on to the house. He frets about the stock market. He calls his siblings in Germany each month or so. They are getting on in years, and some of them have health problems. But he is okay. He's survived cancer and a psychopathic boss at his last job and his mother's death and financial mayhem with the crash.
He is an immigrant to the greatest country to ever exist on this planet. He came here legally, with ambition to do well, no envy of those who did better and with self-reliance and motivation. He did not ask for, nor did he want, a handout, a leg up, assistance, money or any sort of break. What he is, he did. Who he is, he always was. He is a success story, an American story. Because he saw the opportunities, and he took them, and he worked his tail off to make it here. He set an example for his children and made a life--a great life--for them and his American wife. The thing he's always liked the best about her--she's such an American girl. Well, she is. She loves this country. She has lived outside it, and so loves it even more. He loves it too, and chose it as his own. This is a story which has been repeated over and over many times. He thinks it is the true immigrant story, not those manufactured sob stories the left is so fond of. America is the land of opportunity, if you want to work and strive and take pride in your own accomplishments. This immigrant story is my husband's. I tell it so you will know what the immigrant story in America is SUPPOSED to be. It is an uplifting and ultimately hopeful story. America will be saved by such as these, along with its stellar military. Not by illegal aliens, drug smugglers, human smugglers, and criminals coming in from south of the border. Don't, DON'T call them immigrants. They are not immigrants. They are illegal aliens, and they deserve nothing but contempt followed quickly by deportation and an airtight border to prevent their return. They can never, never be part of my immigrant story.