Immigrant Stories

Immigrant Stories

1. my family came from Ireland and went to Canada because Americans wouldnt let the Irish. soon after my great grandfather snuck in on a boat and landed in new York where my grandmother was born; Dorothy Elizabeth OConner when she was 28 she had my mom


2. A young nurse traveled to America to visit her uncles in San Francisco in 1989. She was born in refugee camp in the West Bank, her family became refugees a second time and moved to Kuwait. She was scheduled to travel back to Kuwait, but Sadam had invaded and the Gulf war broke out. Despite being heartbroken because she couldnt return to her family, she kept strong. She began putting her energy towards getting certified to practice as a nurse in the US and eventually started working at a hospital. She later met her husband, a Palestinian refugee from Jordan. Years later when looking back at old documents the young nurse (my mother) had found her flight ticket, my father recognized the date. They were on the same flight to America. Both had no intention of staying for more than a visit, but war had kept them stateside and fate brought them together at the right time.

In 1990 my mom came to visit her uncles in San Francisco, my father was on the same flight bringing his mother to visit his brothers in America. My parents eventually met and married and later discovered they were on the same flight.

Samar Marwan

3. Of the two, my fathers side of the family is far more interesting than my mothers. Our last name is Mayan, in fact it is the Mayan word for guardian, so that should give you an idea of how long weve been in the Americas (centuries). However, they were largely still in the Yucatan up until one member was drafted into Santa Anas army to fight the rebelling Texans. Leaving his family behind in southern Mexico he marched with the army to try and kep Texas a part of Mexico. Once in Texas, though, he fell in love with a native, local woman, one that was for a free Texas. In a tale for the romantic at heart, he decided to desert the army in order to marry her even if it meant he would be a fugitive in Mexico and would never see his family again. When Texas voted to join the Union, he became a US citizen along with his lovely wife and children. The family has been in South Texas ever since until my father joined the air force and met the daughter of a lieutenant colonel in Missouri and decided to stay in the area to marry the woman he loved.


4. Born and raised in Baghdad has become the new, Hi, Im Aya. for me. It has become my introductions to most everything. My family and I moved to the United Stated in 2007 from Iraq. I was roughly 12 years old. We were fleeing from war and turmoil. My dad and two siblings lived in Jordan while my mom worked in the green zone. She would visit us for a week every six months. You can imagine how tortured I felt seeing everyones mother during parent-teach conferences knowing mine wasnt around.

The past 9 days brought back the same foreign feeling I endured when we moved to Jordan in 2006. I was so shell-shocked to find out that our neighboring country made us feel so out of place, meanwhile when we moved to the States, we were welcomed with open hands and hears n 2007. I refused to see the 2003 invasion as a terrible thing. My family and I suffered a lot, but we have found amazing people and communities here in America, and we chose to look at the positive. I am insisting once again to look at the positive during these hard times. The unity and the support thats pouring in from city to city is absolutely astonishing.


5. Great grandfather wanted to escape Ireland since it was poor at the time. immigrated here through Ellis island in 1908 at age 22. great grandmother came here through EI a few years later from Italy. got married and had 5 kids.

my ancestors on my moms side were all Americans for centuries. I had an ancestor who was accused of being a witch and murdered during Salem trials. Also had a fairly renowned revolutionary war colonel in there somewhere.


6. Dads side of the family has been in America longer than America has existed. Came over in the early 1700's from Great Britain, mainly England and Scotland. Dad's side is a true All-American family, patriotic, freedom loving, self made, the whole deal. Basically every single male served in the military in every single war the United States has been in, from the French and Indian war to modern day.

Most of my mom's side came over in the early 1900's to get out of Germany before big war erupted. They hated everything to do with Germany and when WW1 finally erupted the men from my mom's family were some of the first to sign up. They actually ended up fighting against family who had stayed in Germany.

The rest of my mom's side came over in the early 1930's before the Nazi's got full power in Germany. Again, the family hated everything with Germany. One of the first families to sign up in WW2. When my mom's family came over they adopted American ideology and were some of the most patriotic people you could know. Dropped any reference of German from their name. If you called them German-American you were liable to get punched in the face. Pretty deep rooted hate of Germany and Europe as a whole on that side.

So basically my family is American. We don't identify as German Americans, British Americans, anything like that. We're full red blooded Americans through and through.


7. My grandmother emigrated from Nazi Germany. Her mother, father, and sister chose to stay behind because they thought things would get better and because as a veteran her father had some protections that other Jews didnt have. Her family was deported to a concentration camp shortly after she left and her father was killed there. Her mother and sister joined her in America after the war. Well into her 70s my grandmother volunteered at local public schools to help students from other countries learn English. She believed in and appreciated the American values of freedom and equality more than anyone else Ive ever known and loved sharing her love for America with young people coming to our country.


8. My grandma was a holocaust survivor from Germany. She met a US soldier at a nearby base and they fell in love and got married. Unfortunately he was an abusive person and while he was away she packed one suit cause and her and the three kids fled to the USA. She planted herself in Indiana and got a job in security. She was the first female lieutenant and a major trauma hospital. She lived and loved the American dream I am the firstborn American citizen. I have dedicated my life to Public Safety. Because of her I was given the opportunity to live the American dream

She proudly flew the American flag and if you asked how she was doing she would always respond with living the dream. When I came out to her she was so happy because I was able to love who I want without fear. She passed away comfortably in her home that she built from the ground up when she made the life changing decision to come to the USA. Im proud of my German heritage and the life she helped me create. I save lives because of her. She made me the strong woman I am today. I get to live the dream.


9. My immigration story is also a love story. My parents both met in Miami in the 80s while trying to learn English. A few months later my mom left to go back to Colombia and my dad was left in Miami missing her. For seven years they wrote each other letters, poems, and called when they could. After thos long seven years my dad should up in Colombia after traveling to his home country of Peru to propose. Lo and behold she said yes and they were married twenty days later. Give it two more years and i was born. Another year later and we moved to Miami. Being in Miami is definitely easier to be an immigrant than in other parts of the country.


10. My great-great-great grandfather came to America from a small town called Bisacquino in Palermo, Sicily, Italy in the late 1800s. The economy in Palermo was absolutely awful. There were no jobs, and the city was corrupt. He had family that had come over to America already and settled in Alabama, so he sailed here on his own to join them. He came through Ellis Island and made his way to Alabama, only to find that his family had died before he arrived. Regardless, he built a life for himself. He married, had children, worked in the coal mines and opened his own general store, which was burned down multiple times by the KKK because we were too brown. Im beyond proud to be related to such hardworking, resilient people, and Im proud of my Sicilian heritage.


11. My great grandfather came over to the United States from Poland in 1928. He lived with my great grandmothers brothers in the Bronx of New York City. He later applied for naturalization in 1932 and was able to secure passage and citizenship for my great grandmother, grandmother and great aunt. My great aunt came here when she was 5 years old and is still alive today. The reason my family left was because even know Poland had recently been separated from Russia they were was still anti-semetisim. Im proud to be a Jewish American. Attached is a photo of my grandmother, great aunt, great uncle, and great grandmother.


12. My grandfather left North Korea during the Korean War he meet his first wife and had three kids later she died and my grandfather meet my grandma they had 4 kids but one passed away. When my mother was older she meet my father (a soldier in the Us army) and married him 2 months later. My mom went to the states to live a better life. My mother was forced to go to college with little to no English. My grandparents were lucky enough to come the states. To this day my dads family hates my mom because shes a foreigner. At family gatherings shes judged.


16. My family were brought over on slave ships. We had no choice.


17. My great great great great great grandfather Toivo got in a bar fight, killed a man, and disguised himself as a fur trader to come down to present day Minnesota from present day Canada, where he fell in love with the Blackfoot Sioux Indian Chiefs daughter. He traded beaver pelts for her and they lived happily ever after.


18. My great grandfather, Leopold, came over from Germany by way of Argentina with a handful of his buddies. They had heard Argentina was the place to make it big, but after a few months living there, realized that America had better opportunities. They pooled their money together, but only had enough money left over to buy one ticket to America. They drew straws and my great grandfather won. Leaving his friends behind in Argentina, he traveled to Ellis Island, eventually settling in Chicago. There, he met my great grandmother and started a family. His son, my grandfather, worked hard and went on to study medicine at Notre Dame and the Mayo Clinic, eventually setting up his own small practice in the mountains of Waynesville, NC.


19. My parents were refugees from the Vietnam war. They actually met in a refugee camp in the Philippines. Both were separated from their families and somehow found love in the most desperate situation.

A Catholic mission saved them and brought them to the U.S., where they were able to reunite with some of my moms family.My parents found an apartment and had 3 daughters and a happy routine, with my father working and mother taking care of us 3, but their happiness was short lived. My mother and her brother developed cancer from agent orange used during the war. They both died within 2 weeks of each other.

My father went on to raise us 3 girls, aged 6, 3, and 2 single handedly. He worked tirelessly to give us a good life and is now retired and able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Coming to the U.S. saved both my parents lives and gave them opportunities they never dreamed of and for that Im eternally grateful.


20. My beautiful husband was born in Cuba in the 1980s. As a young child he studied chess and quickly became one of the top chess players in the entire world. As soon as he turned 18 he was granted government approval to travel for chess tournaments. After traveling and living in over 22 different countries, he had an opportunity to come to the US and go to college (where we met). In coming to the US he defected from Cuba and, as a result, hasnt been able to return to see his family in many years. He is now a very successful computer programmer, and we have two First Generation Cuban-American babies. I thank all the powers that be every day for my immigrant soul mate.


21. My great grandparents came here from Czechoslovakia and when they came through Ellis Island and were asked their last name they told them Jacobson, which must have sounded like Yakupcin because thats what we all got stuck with. My great grandfather became a coal miner in North Eastern Pa and I believe my great grandmother was a seamstress in the neighborhood.

Kate Andres

22. My fathers family lived in Cuba. When Fidel Castro came to power, they waited 4 years to be able to come to America, and when they were finally allowed out, the were given three day notice before the had to leave. They had to leave countless family members there without saying goodbye, and none of them spoke english. At that time, my grandmother and grandfather were separating, which in Fidel Cuba, meant that if they got a divorce, my father and his 4 brothers would be taken by the government and forced into the army. Even with everything going on now, my father maintains the the US is the greatest country in the world, because of the horrors he saw back in Cuba.


23. My grandfather and his family were millionaires in Cuba. His brother had connections and heard from Batista, the dictator at the time, that a revolution was coming. My grandfather was a medical student in America who travel back and forth from Cuba to America. He came back to Cuba before hearing all this around Christmas with my uncle and my grandma. When he heard this from his brother he went straight to the airport and bought three tickets to Miami, one for him, one for his son, and one for his wife. After taking my grandmother and my uncle to Miami he flew back and bought tickets for the rest of his family. Theres sort of a myth that goes around my family that Castro swore no one from our bloodline would ever be able to go on Cuban soil ever again. They lost, with inflation, 67 million dollars, a house that is now a boarding school, an entire farm filled with animals, and their company that had hundreds of workers lose their jobs, all because Castro. My grandfather then continued his medical degree at Ohio State University and had became a psychiatrist at the state mental hospital in Toledo, Ohio. He ended up successfully raising five wonderful kids, including my mother, having 11 grandkids, and four great grandkids. He became a teacher at the teaching hospital near him. He became a deacon and met Pope John Paul II after a messy divorce with my insane grandmother. He helped my mom get through her divorce to an abusive man helped raise my brother and continue to help my mom and my dad pay for my brothers and my Catholic education. My grandfather helped everyone in our family have a place to stay when they couldnt afford a home, they were being kicked out or in the middle of a divorce. He went from having everything handed to him on a silver platter to handling an insane wife and 5 kids all on a government paycheck. If that doesnt show how awesome he is I dont know what does. And thats only one side of my familys immigration story.


24. My family escaped civil war in Angola in the 1970s they came to California and met and had me. Im a first generation American. Born to refugee parents that came over as teens to escape war.


25. When my great-great grandmother was seventeen years old, the Turkish invaded Armenia, with the intention to kill all Armenians. One night when she was falling asleep, Turkish soldiers knocked down the door and shot her father in the head in front of her. Quietly, she managed to escape the house barefoot to a small village on the border. There she met a villager who let her stay as long as necessary and provided her with food. The next day she left the villager a note that said that she was leaving and going to find refuge in Turkey. 10 years later she got on a boat heading for the US, only to be sent back for a cataract on her left eye. She finally found refuge in Paris for twenty years, until the Nazis annexed France. In order to find safety, she married an American soldier in Paris named Robert to be able to move to the United States. They were married for 30 years and had 2 children. She died in 1979 in her home country of Armenia.


26. My father is a Vietnam war refugee from the 70s. He was one of the boat people. He grew up wealthy with my grandparents making medicine patches. My great grandparents owned a fish sauce company. As the 4th child out of 9, he remembers waiting at a refugee camp in Indonesia while they were given papers for where they were assigned to move to different countries. His family got relocated to New York where their family of 11 shared two apartments. A huge change from their mansion in Vietnam filled with maids and servants. My grandmother will later on sponsor all 12 of her siblings to come to America as well.

My mother stayed in Vietnam after the war where communism took over Saigon. Her father was a prisoner of war and then later moved to a reeducation camp, which was pretty much a torture camp. He was released 10 years later and in less than a year, they immigrated to California.


27. My great grandfather was a stowaway. He was fleeing poverty in the Philippines and wanted to make a life for himself in the US. So, he stowed away on a cattle boat heading for better opportunities. When the ship reached Hawaii he was too sea sick to make the rest of the journey. He eventually got work on a plantation and changed his last name, then the border crossed him when the US acquired the islands. We eventually made it to the continental US, Im part of the second generation born on the mainland.


28. My grandfather, as well as his brothers and parents, fled to Germany from Estonia during WWII, pretending to be ethnic Germans to gain access to the country. For three years, my great-grandfather had to be a bridge-builder for the nazis to support the family. Even so, my grandfather is very short for our family to this day, as he did not get necessary nourishment during this time, as he was just starting to need to eat a lot. However, his two older brothers and his younger brother were not at that age during this time, so theyre really tall. Anyways, after three years, they managed to be able to come to America and eventually settled in the city that I live in now.


29. In the 1950s, my Turkish Muslim grandfather came to America to get a better education. He was only going to stay long enough to get his PhD., but ended up meeting a beautiful nurse whom he fell in love with. He became one of the most respected surgeons at his hospital and everyone in the area knew who he was. My mom and her siblings always tell stories about how many speeding tickets they got out of because my grandfather saved the lives of so many cops.


30. My mom immigrated to the United States when she was 8 with her family from South Africa. This was during apartheid. My dad moved from Spain to England when he was in his late 20s and lived with my mom there. They met online and the first time my mom met my dad she flew from America to England and had never seen him before. It was extremely dangerous because she didnt tell her parents but it all turned out well. I was born in England and then me, my mom, and my dad moved to the United States because we knew his job wasnt going anywhere and my mom was miserable and had no support system other than us. My dad still has a very thick Spanish accent and it has taken him so much practice to adapt to our culture and learn a new language so late in his life. Now we all live in the us and are very happy, Im about to go to college and could not be more thankful for my parents sacrifices.


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