The Truth of This Italian Immigrant

I am often asked how I moved to the US, what happened that made me leave my country, if I fled, escaped or what. The truth is not so clear cut, not exactly that simple. I didn’t wake up one day and decided: “I am moving!”. It was a succession of events. Let it be known, however, that if I had had to face the laws that are in place today, I would most likely not had been able to become a citizen. Whether I would be one of those infamous “illegals” or if I had gone back to Italy, it’s something I don’t know, even after having married a citizen… or two.

Just recently in fact, a Mexican man, who had been living in the US his whole adult life, having been brought here as a child, even though he married a citizen, built a business and had a family, was deported, and it drives me crazy the callousness of those that applauded this event. It’s appalling. As if a 6 year old has any control over his life.

Here’s some of my truths:

  1. No, I didn’t escape or fled. Those that know me, know how much I love my country. At the time of my first trip to the US I was a teenager longing for adventure and I had the willingness of living somewhere else to learn and grow. I caught the opportunity that my aunt gave me and if I could go back in time I would do it again. My aunt married an American Soldier (my dear uncle Tony) in the late 1950s and it’s still living in the US today.
    After being able to stay in the United States after changing my various visas from visitor to student, work and all of that, I met my husband and got married. I was always planning of going back to Italy after this happened or that happened, but in the end, 36 years later I am still here. We are planning to move to Italy (again, LOL!) when my husband retires, let’s hope it sticks this time. I miss my family more than words can say.
  2. I never abandoned my family in Italy. As a matter of fact, I feel I am closer to my family than my husband’s (current and ex) are to theirs. At first we wrote letters, called, now we skype. I am there for them all the time, I talk to my parents every week, talk to my sisters, try to advice my nieces, share photos on FB, we are never apart. Miles mean nothing.
  3. I’ve never forgotten my country, nor my traditions. Never have, never will. When I became a citizen of the US back in 1994, they told us to never forget our language, our culture, our customs. I do have to say here that I would not have even become a citizen had Italy and the US not changed a law that forbid dual citizenships. When the laws changed I felt safe. There is no way I would have ever given up my Italian citizenship.
  4. I know some people think it’s “easy” to live in a different country, but it’s far from easy, the more different the country of origin is, the harder. Imagine having to abandon everything and everybody you’ve ever known, learn-from scratch-another entire language (write and speak), another measuring system (from liters to gallons, from meters to feet etc), new money, new customs, and the list goes on. The younger you are, the easier. My decision to go to school helped me tremendously because I learned right away that English has to be learned twice, one to write and one to speak, because how you write it is not necessary how you pronounce it and viceversa. My love for writing and reading helped me even more. But I am one of the lucky ones. My ex-MIL came here from Italy as an adult with children. She never had the opportunity to go to school, so, while her spoken english is good, her written… not so much. It’s okay with me, she can write me in Italian, but it shows how people in different circumstances have various difficulties. It’s not a walk in the park.
  5.  My love for my country does not mean I don’t love the US and I want to “fled” the US. I am proud to be Italian and I am proud to be American as well. I’ve grown to truly love the US even though I struggled immensely due to my son’s condition, struggles that I would not have had in Italy. Love for two countries is not mutually exclusive. I love a lot of things about the US, I find that many things are much better in Italy than the US, and viceversa. If I could combine the two countries someway I would.

The story of the world revolves around humans moving everywhere. There are American citizens living all over the world with similar problems. Immigrants have very different stories. and the laws regarding them keep changing. Many have come here without their consent, many have come here to improve their lives, the stories are crazy. I seem to be a magnet and have met so many because I am an immigrant myself. Just because an immigrant is “illegal”, it does not mean they are rapists or terrorists. The immigrants I met are the most hard working, friendly and open people I have ever met. Open your eyes and heart. This is what this country is all about.

Love & Light,

 

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