I am the son of immigrants, or more accurately stated, former political refugees.
My parents, who were teenagers and who not yet met each other, and other family members left Cuba in the early 1960s, escaping tyranny and finding freedom.
They worked hard. They learned English. They built new lives for themselves.
They didn't break the law — as refugees seeking asylum, they all arrived in America legally — and then bitch and moan how their rights were being violated or how they were being discriminated against because of their surnames or the color of their skin. There was no time for that when you are trying to raise a family and build a home.
And when the time came, like it did for my parents 30 years ago this spring, they became American citizens.
We hold onto and celebrate our culture and customs, and some of us have made plans for how we will visit our patría once Fidel is gone, but first and foremost, we are Americans.
You're not seeing too many Cuban flags being flown during the immigration protests taking place this week.
I'm not surprised, and it's not because some are using the demonstrations to break out their visages of the executioner Ché Guevara.
The protesters are not speaking to the Cuban experience in America, and if somehow there are some Cubans in the streets, they are more likely to be waving American flags. After all, that is the flag of their country now.
Cuban or Mexican, the protesters are not speaking for me. First of all, I would never be so presumptous to believe that I can break the law, i.e. by entering the country illegally, and then demand extra rights for myself.
But more importantly, these protests strike me as anti-American.
Yes, our nation is a melting pot, made up of customs, cultures and languages from around the world. We should always welcome legal immigrants whenever possible, and in the current debate, I believe any reform must make it possible for illegal aliens now in the U.S. to acquire legal status.
Immigrants make this nation stronger.
But many of the protesters seems to be advocating a separate place for themselves in America, in which they are allowed to work and raise their families but are not required to follow the same laws and rules. Demand they that do, and they cry racism.
There is an American culture that immigrants implictly agree to adapt when the decide to stay in this country. They are not asked to forget the ways of the old country, but to remember they are in America now and we do things certain ways.
First of all, they must follow the law.
And they must work hard. And they must learn English. And they must build new lives for themselves.
Do that, and in return America will deliver you many great riches, the most valuable being the chance to live in the freest nation in the history of man.
Cubans and Cuban Americans made that bet, and have been rewarded immensely.
There is still plenty of room at the table for Mexicans, Guatamalans and yes, even more Cubans — as long as you play by the rules.
When I started writing this post, my intent was to take off from a post La Ventanita has at her site in which she eloquently spells out the differences between Cubans like us and the illegal immigrants of today.
As she notes, there are big differences.
See this is what people forget. They always think Cubans get preferential treatment because of the Cuban Adjustment Act, but Cubans are political refugees. Look it up in the dictionary there is a difference between refugee and immigrant.
In addition the only Cubans getting the "so called preferential treatment" are those who make it here. They have to cross an ocean, 90 miles, in the sun, in a raft. Not on foot, through a border. They definitely face a bigger hurdle, yet as always, they will not be part of this immigration reform. Wet-foot/Dry-foot will still stand, discriminating against Cubans, while the US takes in all the rest.
Read La Ventanita's entire post here.