Tuesday, March 3, 2020

We Are All Immigrants

Not too long ago on Instagram, I posted my grandmother's immigration story. I wanted to include it on my blog because immigration reform is in the news again in a terrible way.

As you can already guess, this is an issue that hits close to home for me as I would not be here in the country that I love if my grandmother had not fled France in the 1940s due to the terrorism that ignited World War II. 

"Always punch Nazis." - my grandfather

I will start her story like any other story seems to start. It was a normal day. My grandmother awoke to her town being bombed. Her father was instantly killed. Her mother took her and fled their home. She ran to her Catholic church and claimed sanctuary. The church took them in and my grandmother was on the path to become a nun. 

Well, until she met my American grandfather when she was 19.

She used to blush every time she told me how they met, even in her 60s! She left the convent to marry him and they settled down in North Carolina to live (somewhat) happily ever after. 

She did not like to talk about those times in the convent in France. She just told me that I was too young to be sad and we would go back to watching her shows.

But, sometimes, she would tell me those stories. She would tell me to be careful. Listen when people begin to speak in whispers. And then, my grandfather would laugh and tell me that my grandma had a little too much wine and whisk me away to play. Just hearing the stories of what she (and he) had to go through during that time makes my heart hurt and definitely shaped my worldview forever. 

It's hard to explain what it was like to have an immigrant grandparent. I wanted so much to know about where she came from and she wanted nothing more than for me to embrace right where I am. Land of the free, home of the brave, where I am safe, where she was safe.

When I see that immigration reform is even a question, I do not understand. Until you have seen the terror hidden behind a grandparent's eyes as they tell you what it was like to flee for their lives, I do not think anyone can understand. We are a sanctuary nation. It's time we started acting like it. Most of all, I think that a lot of people in this country forget this simple fact:


None of us, not a single one unless you are Native American, started here. We all were put together on this continent for whatever reason and then we started to build. And, we built it. All of us, together. Over generations and time, we came together to build what we and our children see today as the United States Of America. Our history began with all of us working together and we should all continue to work together. 

This consistent divisiveness is doing nothing but causing chaos all over the world. I even read an article recently about how immigration attorney Jean Danhong Chen has new obstacles ahead of her because of the coronavirus. And that's only a tiny part of what needs to be overhauled in immigration! Do I think immigration reform needs to happen? Yes. Hopefully, the new administration, (election season, get excited!), will have a plan. Any plan is better than the current one.

Do you have an immigration story that you would like to share? 


  1. My father was an immigrant, but he did it the right way and became a citizen. I do believe we need immigration reform as well and agree we all are immigrants in a way.

  2. My ancestors were immigrants buy I was born here. We need to help people become citizens like they did at Ellis Island

  3. I don't have any to share, but I'm glad you shared your story. It's nice to get to hear all these stories. I agree with a lot that you said though.

  4. I hope you write down the story and pass it on to your kids and preserve your grandma's memories forever.
    Immigration reform has to take place, I agree wholeheartedly. But just "any plan" won't cut it! Why? Because human lives are involved.
    Yes, vote and be an active participant in your local community to improve its life, its vibrance – it means to STAND UP to any indifference when it involves a human life.

  5. I don't have an immigration story, but yours is great. You should be so proud of what your grandma did! I hope you pass this story on.

  6. I must admit that I am not up to date on what is going on in the US in regards to immigration. I am from Canada and it's different up here. We did have neighbors that had fled their country when they were just kids.

  7. It's so true! We are all immigrants. But Americans at the same time! Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. There has been a need for immigration reform for years. People just happen to be talking about it more now. We have had refugees live with us and have also worked to sponsor a family to come to the US and it's all easier said than done. I don't think there are easy answers and I think that the current political climate muddies the water and doesn't necessarily provide answers...it just causes more confusion.

    1. Thank you so much for doing all of that! The current political situation is...not good. There are just so many issues that we need to be working on!

  9. What an amazing story! I think so many people forget we all started out as immigrants. My mom's family came from Germany and my dad's is British.

  10. I love that you shared your story. My family are immigrants as well and their stories are not easy to hear.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this. I would like to agree about the reform.

  12. We are all immigrants. This is a great story I hope you share with your family to be passed down through the generations. Not enough people know where they come from.

  13. Thank you for sharing this story. I know a few immigrants there that are now citizens.