What It Means to be an Immigrant

Catalina Fernandez (above), age five

I have never been confined to identifying with just one culture nor one way of thinking. I'm an immigrant and this is my story.

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and moved to California at the age of four. In fact, immigration has been a prevalent aspect of my life and heritage. My Argentine mother was also an immigrant to the United States, just as her Italian and Spanish ancestors were immigrants to Argentina in the early 19th century. My American father immigrated to Argentina, just as his Argentine and Colombian parents did when they moved to New York in the 60's, following the footsteps of his Spanish immigrant ancestors who had moved from war-torn Europe to South America.

When I was younger, I would always say that my heart was split in half, with one side in Argentina and the other, in the United States. Being born and raised in two different places, creates this sensation- a duality of identity that can often feel like a split. It can be difficult to feel a true sense of belonging. When I visit Argentina, I find myself at a loss for cultural trends and living in the United States as an immigrant can at times, feel like a temporary circumstance, even though it is where I have spent the majority of my life.

But I have come to realize, that my identity is not split; I don't have to pick between one culture over the other. Being born in Argentina doesn't make me any less American, just as being raised in the United States doesn't make me any less Argentinian. 

Today, our country finds itself in a climate of extreme polarization- with immigration as a constant subject of heated debate. It's not surprising, given that our current president ran on a campaign based off the promise of building walls and the American-made way.

As an immigrant and Latina, especially, it is disheartening to experience and observe the stigma surrounding immigration that is so prevalent today. To know that it's not just some members of the public that hold these views, but that government officials and authorities (@DonaldTrump) are consistently perpetuating these negatives ideas is appalling. They have directed their efforts to devaluing immigrants and their stories. They fail to recognize that immigration has made this country the ideological and ethnic melting pot that it is.

If you too are an immigrant, remember: you are not what they say you are. You are important; you are worthy; you are strong.    

 

I'm an immigrant and I'm a dual citizen. 

I'm an immigrant and I'm a university student.

 I'm an immigrant and I'm bilingual. 

I'm an immigrant and I'm creative.

I'm an immigrant and I'm ambitious.

I'm an immigrant and I'm powerful.