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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  • Nazry’s story: A changed life that deserves a second chance

    | Hope Mustakim

    My name is Hope Mustakim and my husband is Nazry Mustakim. He is a native of Singapore and has been a U.S. resident alien since moving here in 1992 at the age of 13. To make a long story short, Nazry was recently and unexpectedly detained on March 30, 2011 at our home in Waco, TX. The ICE agents said that his prior drug charge in 2005 violated the terms…
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  • Choosing to Help Others

    | Ingrid Cruz

    I decided to advocate for immigrants' rights because I had finally, after 22 years of waiting, obtained my U.S. Citizenship. Obtaining it didn't mean the end of the racial profiling, because I looked visibly Latina. I had become tired of working for a company (that I will not name), which wanted to act as ICE - firing various undocumented workers, and constantly limiting the upward mobility of employees of color.…
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  • My Humble Undocumented Story

    | Bupendra Ram

    Ethnically Indian, I was born in Fiji and I came to the United States when I was three-years-old. Six months later, I became Undocumented. At the age of 23, I became Undocumented and Unafraid. Being raised in America, I caught the “American Dream” virus that was spread by teachers. In elementary school and middle school, I never knew what it meant to be undocumented; all I knew is that I…
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  • Craig Newmark: How I Define American

    | Anonymous

    Hi, I'm Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist and the new philanthropic site "" This is how I define "American:" I define American as playing fair with everyone. I define American as treating people like I'd like to be treated. It's good to remember that. I think that's what our country is about.
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  • American, Dutch, or German?

    | Kristy Collins

    When I was 3 years old, my mother met my father in Berlin, Germany while he was based at Tempelhof. My mother was a Dutch citizen but a Permanent Resident of the US from previous US marriages. My father was a US Army Soldier. He is and always will be the most amazing man in my life. After knowing me and my family (1 brother, 1 sister), he decided to…
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