Define American

Using the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation around citizenship

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  • I am a DREAMER...well almost...

    | Anonymous

    Meet Gabriela. A DREAMER... well almost... She missed the age-at entry requirement by a couple of months.

    After reading her story, don't you think she more than deserves a shot too?

    "I, Gabriela Monico, hereby declare as follows: My name is Gabriela Monico. I am a resident of California. I was born in San Salvador, El Salvador. I came to the United States in November 2005 on…

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  • Done Dreaming

    | Esmy Jimenez

    My name is Esmy Jimenez. I was raised in a small town in Washington State known for agriculture and friendly people. I graduated from the local high school as the Senior Class President. I was in National Honor Society and enrolled in all the AP classes my school provided. I even ran on the cross country team and (attempted) to play tennis. On weekends I worked for a catering company…
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  • No Papers Necessary.

    | Anonymous

    My name is Pat. My first "American" family member got to these shores in 1621. His name is William Claiborne and there is a plaque dedicated to him in the church at Jamestown. However, the other half of my family is Irish. The Irish side of my family, while I am not certain, very likely arrived here without any papers since they fled here during the famine. So, in…

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  • I am an American, but I live in the shadows...

    | Anonymous

    In 1998, I met my immigrant husband in Chicago while I was in AmeriCorps and going to school. By that time, he had been in the US for almost 10 years--he had earned his GED, learned English, and moved up from his original position as dishwasher to become a kitchen manager. We fell in love. In 2002, we got married in his hometown in Mexico. We were told that petitioning…
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  • I Teach Americans. So What?

    | Anonymous

    While sitting at a scholarship pageant, I remember how an idyllic teenage girl explained that her dream was to become a teacher. I was a cynical teen in those days and so I rolled my eyes as her sweet, but very breathy voice tinkled the words, "I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way." I had to chew on the sides of…
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  • Being AmeriCAN

    | Scott Compton

    Being American means, I can walk down to the corner store without fear of attack I can get government support if my life takes a turn for the worst I can disagree with superiors and not have to worry about being punished Being AmeriCAN means that I am free and have choices.
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  • Julieta Defines American

    | Julieta Garibay

    Julieta earned a nursing degree from the University of Texas in Austin, where she also has a Master’s degree. She was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing. She's been living in the United States since she was 12. Julieta says that an "American" is the person "who fights for what they believe in....who fights for their dreams....and who achieves everything they have set up for…
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  • Erika Defines American

    | Erika Andiola

    Erika Andiola, who was born in Durango, Mexico, emigrated to Mesa, Arizona, when she was 11 years. A graduate of Arizona State University (with a degree in psychology), she co-founded the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition. Erika, who is undocumented, defines American "as having the courage to stand up for what you believe in."
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  • Cesar Defines American

    | Cesar Vargas

    Cesar came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 5 and has lived the American dream: "I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a dreamer, and I'm an American." He graduated from law school with honors and recently passed the New York State Bar.
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  • Matias Defines American

    | Matias Ramos

    Born in Argentina, Matias Ramos emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1999. He graduated from UCLA, where he earned a degree in political science, and has contributed to the Los Angeles Times and The Nation. He was the first board chair of the student-led organization United We DREAM, and he's currently the Carol Jean and Edward F. Newman Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Matias defines American…
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