Family Stories as Secret Text for Immigrants
Though children of immigrants may generally know the broad arc of their parents’ lives, the details — of lives lived before America, of hardships in leaving and struggles to adapt — are frequently lost in the rush of assimilation, a time of forging ahead rather than looking back.Like this letter to the paper says:
And so it is that each year, when Nancy Foner, a professor of sociology at Hunter, requires the students in her course “The Peopling of New York” to interview a close relative about the family’s recent history, the discoveries are often startling, to the students as well as to their classmates.
In a class where most of the students are either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants, the assignment is not simply an exercise in historical inquiry but also an intense exploration into their own lives and the sacrifices of their forebears.
...the extraordinary sacrifices their immigrant parents have made on their behalf offer a deep insight into the lengths people will go to bring their children better lives. The cumulative impact provides a powerful argument for passage of the Dream Act, which Congress is expected to reconsider later this year
The stories deserve to become part of the debate over the Dream Act, for they are dramatic proof of how greatly immigrants enrich our nation and how much we need to rationalize their path to citizenship.