58 letters on the American Dream from San Marcos University students, San Diego, California, USA
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letter 35: Howes, Penelope

1.  My story starts back in the late 1800s when my great, great grandma and grandpa immigrated to America from their native country Ireland. They left Ireland in hope for a more prosperous life, out of poverty and freedom to establish a life for themselves. So, they picked up their things and started on a journey to New York. This is where my family roots stayed until about 1970 when my grandma and grandpa moved to California because my grandpa was in the U.S. Air Force. So back to my great, great grandpa, he established himself and his family here in America as a labor worker. I am not sure exactly what he did, but I do know he moved up in the ranks of the labor business and was pretty well off financially. My late relatives chose to come to America because in Ireland there was no room for growth, but because America was just beginning to establish an economic system, there was a chance for them to have a better life. My Irish roots come from my dad’s side of the family; my mom’s side goes back so far that there is no relative I could contact to get information on why or when we immigrated to America. My mom’s side is mostly a mix of English and Scottish and we even have some Native American mixed in, which would be an interesting story to hear. The migration story for my mom’s side starts on the East Coast of the United States and ends in Oregon where my great, great, great grandfather was a farmer. That side of my family was pioneers that were in search for more land and new opportunities, similar to my Irish ancestors. So I guess it does not matter where you start, it is why and how you ended up where you are that is the intriguing part.

2. Write a short response to the photograph and its picture of reality here in SoCal and America. Explain what the different images mean to you.

 The Latino Dream mural to me represents a wanting and sacrifice of what people will do to come to America. The photograph illustrates a better life just over the horizon and the people dedicated to pursuing that dream just as my ancestors were. The one thing that bothers me about this mural is that there is such a big problem right now with illegal immigration into America that it makes me think negatively of this issue. The mural depicts people walking and boating across the border, which to me seems like they are doing so illegally. This may not be the case at all, but you have to understand what a big deal illegal immigration is, especially here in Southern California. When I was in high school, I would see cars with Baja California (Mexico) license plates dropping their kids off at school, and I couldn’t help but wonder if they were here legally or not. I had a friend in high school that was of Mexican ethnicity and she told me that her mom and dad came to America illegally and had her here in America, which makes her a legal born citizen. I can fully understand the desire to come to America because it is the land of opportunity, but my ancestors came here legally and had to work from the ground up to establish their lives here, why should it be different for anybody else? I think it is mostly our government’s fault for not standing its ground and allowing our states to become more and more populated with illegal citizens. I am not blaming this all on the Latino culture, because I’m sure there are many people from Canada that are coming here illegally, too. It is sad to me that I have a negative connotation towards immigration because for my ancestors it was the best thing that ever happened to them, but with all the problems that our country and states are facing economically because of illegal immigration, it is hard to look at the mural any differently.