Don’t let the culture of this country die. It’s too beautiful. It’s too rich. – Lourdes Mulligan
Lourdes Mulligan, a Cuban immigrant who came here as a young girl under political asylum, knows firsthand what it is to live without freedom; she lived under Fidel Castro’s oppressive communist government. Now a U.S. citizen, she’s doing everything she can to keep America great and to prevent it from becoming increasingly similar to her native country of Cuba.
Fleeing Cuba: “No Place to Bring Up Children”
In 1961, Lourdes Martinez was just a young girl living in Cuba with her parents, Mario and Carmelina, and her two siblings, an older brother, Mario III, who was born blind, and a younger sister, Maria. Her father was both a dentist and an instructor at the University of Havana working hard to support his family.
In 1959 when Castro came to power, Dr. Martinez, like many other Cubans, was optimistic. But it soon became clear – from the firing squads, secret police, and mass jailings – that life was going to get worse. Dr. Martinez began to store weapons in his house for the Bay of Pigs, a failed attempt and part of a broader effort by the U.S. to unseat the Cuban government through covert operations.
What makes my case the most interesting – I didn’t have any sponsorship, no relatives, no sponsor, no amnesty. I am here based solely on my merit. – Jose Aldana
In 1997 Jose Aldana came to the United States to pursue a degree at Ozarks University in Arkansas in his area of academic passion, chemistry. He loved chemistry so much that he also obtained his Ph.D. in nanotechnology from the University of Arkansas.
Needless to say, it took a great deal of focus and perseverance. Fortunately, Jose had an excellent example in his parents, who instilled in him the same work ethic they had. A middle class family by Guatemalan standards, they worked hard, took their children to church, and were never dependent on the government. Jose emulated his parents’ virtues, which helped him to transition when he came to the U.S.
Coming to the United States was not that difficult, as he was here on a student visa with a merit-based scholarship, working to obtain his degree. There was not an “iron wall” or any “anti-immigrant sentiment” that he experienced.
“As long as you work hard,” he said, “you can come here. What is difficult is staying here. That’s a little bit harder.” Jose does not see the immigration system as unfair, but it is certainly tough. Tough as it was, it was definitely worth it.
In life, when an issue arises, you must go to the source or the root of the problem, and fix it. Simply trying to deal with the effects is not enough. Octavio Sanchez doesn’t think the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill will work, because it doesn’t actually solve the problems related to our immigration system but simply tries to deal with the effects of illegal immigration.
As we think about immigration, we are inundated with opinions from media pundits, news anchors, and policy analysts alike. Octavio is none of the above. His perspective is important though because he is an American citizen, and it is unique because he came here from Mexico 16 years ago with his wife and children.
Immigrants who come here lawfully have the opportunity to thrive in a place where the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” have real meaning. That’s why Octavio came here and why he loves America.
Life Was About to Change
Happily living and working in Mexico City, life was going to change for Octavio and his family in a big way that he had not planned. His company, a large U.S. corporation, asked him if he’d like to take a position in the United States. He consulted his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, who all gave their consent.
The United States was to be their new home.