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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  • Defined...

    | Michael Collins

    My family heritage is Dutch and Irish. Many in my family were refused entrance in America because of improper inoculations , errors in paperwork , and because they were Irish. The ones who were allowed to join this society had to learn the language, integrate into a society that treated them like dirt , and many worked on the trans-continental railway. I have read letters from my ancestors on how…
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  • Surprise! You're illegal

    | Anonymous

    I grew up American. I landed in Brooklyn when I was two years old.  I found out that I was undocumented when was 17 and about to graduate high school. I was offered a summer job and needed to show up with my social security card. My father and I went for a drive to the social security office, but we never got there. Along the way, he told me the…
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  • Americans

    | Evelyn Hess

    I consider anyone who loves America and lives here to be an American. We all are immigrants, even the First People, though they emigrated tens of thousands of years before the rest of us did. What counts is what we do once we are here. If we care for our beautiful country, for each other, and for the future, we are Americans worthy of the name.
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  • The two sides of America

    | Jeresia Noris

    I have two conflicting definitions of America. The one I was raised to believe in - a country who is caring and compassionate and the greatest place on Earth. Then I have the definition that I have sadly come to see lately. A country ruled by simple political agendas. My name is Jeresia Noris and I am married to a wonderful man who entered the country without inspection over 10…
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  • 20 Years and Counting...

    | Lucy Guisa

    My name is Lucy and I am and undocumented immigrant that has been living in the U.S for 20 years. I define American as - someone that has established their roots here (whether brought as a child or came as an adult), is hard working, lives as a citizen regardless of having papers or not. When I was 6 years old, my parents were going through a difficult economic time…
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