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Las Jefas

Call Me a Dreamer

Celebrating Immigrants in America

By Marisa Rivera

Today, I want to celebrate all of America’s immigrants, who through their efforts, sweat, equity and desire to defend this democracy wearing the uniform, have made what the United States of America is today.

The United States has always been seen as the land of immigrants. The U.S. a young nation, so other than Native Americans, we all have great-grandparents, grandparents or parents who immigrated to this country. We know that America is rich because of its heritage of immigrant populations – a unique history of settlement, boundless ventures and the culture of independence and democracy. From the Spanish Conquistadors, to the Africans brought during the slave trade, to the Italians, Polish, Germans, Jews, arriving to Ellis Island, to the recent immigrants from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, and many refugees from all over the world are all part of America’s tapestry. They have all been part of the growth, progress and success of this great nation. The U.S. has welcomed immigrants all throughout its history. What do these people have in common? They have the desire to work hard for a living and provide a better life for their children. They are proud of the work they do and are grateful to have the opportunity to be of service to America!

Unlike the current discriminatory discourse we’ve been hearing in the news today, I want to celebrate the many, hardworking, courageous and most humble people I have met, America’s immigrant population. When I hear they should all go back, I wonder where? The truth of the matter is that Hispanics in this continent and in this country predate the founding of our nation in 1776 by nearly 300 years. The Spanish colony of San Augustine was established in 1563, El Paso in 1598, and Santa Fe in 1609. The first permanent English colony, Jamestown, was not founded until 1607. Many of the Hispanics settled in the Southwest long before the American Revolution, so home is here.

For many years I have been fortunate to work with many immigrant communities across Illinois, Washington, D.C., California, New York, Iowa, Florida, and throughout the country. Many of them working from sunrise to sundown in the fields, picking the food we eat, to working in the meat packing industries, to construction sites, to the service industries. They all have some unique and valuable characteristics. They are humble, hardworking and loving people, willing to work two and three jobs, the kind most people don’t want. Many of them start their own businesses and now at record numbers, which infuses energy and funds into America’s economy.

I look forward to Hispanic Heritage Month every year, because it gives us the opportunity to showcase the beauty, richness, traditions and major contributions of our Hispanic American brothers and sisters. Hispanic Americans and their descendants have had a profound and lasting influence in American history, values and culture through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work and service. They are the fastest and youngest population in America, making up the labor force needed to move America forward. Latinos have a purchasing power of more than $1 trillion dollars a year, making them the 15th largest economy in the world. Even undocumented workers pay over $13 billion into social security and Medicare every year, with no benefits for themselves.

I have a dream. A dream that someday we can live in a world without borders, a world without violence, where human dignity is always respected and everyone has a chance to live their fullest potential. I have a dream that we can share this place on Earth in peace. Call me a dreamer, call me an immigrant, but most of all, call me human.

las jefas

Marisa Rivera is president of Mpowerment Works, a motivational speaker, executive coach and leadership and empowerment consultant. [email protected]

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