A Nation Of Immigrants

By Melani Segovia

These are different published pieces interwoven together to form a spoken word piece. I made this piece because it talks about immigration which is something that is really big in my life. I wanted to show people that immigrants migrated to the United States to live a life they couldn’t in their own countries due to different circumstances that stopped them from doing what they wanted to which was to have a stable future and life. Putting this piece together, made me realize that I should be proud to be an immigrant because we sacrifice our lives to come to an unknown country to have a better life and escape from whatever it is we are dealing with in our own country.

INTRO by the Author: Freedom was something that my family didn’t have in El Salvador due to the social, political, and economic situation that persists today. My mother brought me to this country when I was seven so that my siblings and I could have a better life the same reason so many families have come here for the past 300 years. In the poems by Emma Lazarus and Faith Ringgold,  Barack Obama’s letter to the press on the DACA repeal, and articles by Jordan Green and Brandon Stanton, we see that the struggle persists for immigrants to our country, even though we are: A Nation of Immigrants; A Program.

[box]  Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door![/box]

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

I came to America when I was six years old. Mom said she brought us here so that we’d have opportunities in life. She said that back in the Bahamas, it’s only the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ She wanted us to have more choices. But I don’t think she fully understood how things work here.

“It was late at night, but I couldn’t stop crying, and people were getting angry at my mother, yelling ‘Shut that girl up; you’re going to get us caught,’” said Cortez-Perez, recalling the end of the journey as they approached the border. “I didn’t want to be held by anyone in the group. My mother was exhausted, six months pregnant. And when things couldn’t get worse, I scraped my whole hand on a cactus. You can only imagine what happened. I started screaming at the top of my lungs, and I attracted the attention of ICE immigration patrol. At the sight of this everyone ran to the other side and left us behind.

The stakes could not have been higher when Cortez-Perez’s mother reviewed the circumstances of a life in Veracruz, on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, and decided she could not accept a future in which she could not guarantee that she would not be able to feed and clothe her daughter.

[box] We came to America

From every color, race, and religion,

From every country in the world.

Some of us were already here before the others came

And some of us were brought in chains

losing our freedom and our names. [/box]

This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.

[My mother] was a news reporter back in the Bahamas. But the only job she could get here was taking care of old people.My dad could only work construction. We moved to four different states just so they could find work.

“My mother had to stop, kneel, put me down and raise her arms in the air, and she asked for help because she needed help because I was vomiting, sweating, cold and she was afraid that I might die,” Cortez-Perez continued. “The authorities later confirmed that I could have died of dehydration. The officers that night gave us food, gave me a glass of milk, and us a jail cell with a small bed. My mother tells me I was so happy and giddy afterwards, she said I started making funny faces at the officers and they started laughing. I’ve always thought that part was kind of ironic considering our circumstance at that moment.”

They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English.

[box] We came to america

Every color, race and religion

From every country in the world

We traveled from our birthplace

By boat and and by plane

Some of us came running From injustice, fear, and pain [/box]

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship.

“My parents told me: ‘You are undocumented — that’s your ticket to a better life,’” Cortez-Perez told me as we sat on a patio facing the stately columns of Reynolda Hall on the campus of Wake Forest University on Thursday. “Education was my sanctuary.”

They always told me, ‘Just study hard in school and everything will work out fine.’ So that was my plan. I got all A’s up until the 11th grade– except for one B in math.

And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong.

[box] We came to america

Every color, race and religion

From every country in the world

We brought along our joyful songs

Our stories wise and true

Our music and colored the air

Beautiful sounds and patterns everywhere

Our joyful dance now freed our pain[/box]

It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel.

My goal was to get top twenty in my class, then go to college, then get a degree, and then get a job. I realized the truth my senior year. My guidance counselor told me I couldn’t get a loan. I couldn’t get financial aid. Even if I could find a way to pay for school, I probably couldn’t get a job. I felt so mad at everyone. There were some kids who completely slacked off in school, but even they were going to college

And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should.

And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

I started having panic attacks. My dad told me not to worry. He called me a ‘doubting Peter.’ He invited all his friends over to a fish fry to help raise money. And he did get $3,000. But that wasn’t enough. So I searched really hard on the Internet and found the Dream.us scholarship. My mom was so excited when I got it. They’re paying for me to go to Queens College.

[box] Gently, like soothing rain

Our food, our fashion, and our art

Made America great[/box]

This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be. What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray.  What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

[box] We came to America,

From every country in the world

In spite of where we came from

Or how or why we came

We are all americans

Just the same.[/box]

Now my mom’s really scared again because DACA got revoked. She’s crying all the time at work. I try to tell her that no matter what happens, we’re not going to die. We just might have to start over.

Lazarus, Emma. “The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2017.

Ringgold, Faith. We Came to America. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. Print

“READ: Obama’s Full Statement on DACA.” CNN. Cable News Network, 05 Sept. 2017. Web. 08 Nov. 2017.

“Citizen Green: DACA Recipient: My Mother Is a Hero.” The NC Triad’s Altweekly. N.p., 15 Sept. 2017. Web. 08 Nov. 2017.

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