I AM AN IMMIGRANT. I was not born in the United States and I am not a US citizen. My family moved to the United States when I was 2 years old, so that my sister and I could have better opportunities. For years we were in the country illegally. Getting a green card is not as easy as it may seem, even back then. When I was in 4th grade we were deported out of the country. My entire family moved to Japan for a year while my parents worked diligently to sort out our paperwork. I had never been so scared in my entire life. The thought of possibly never returning to my home, my school, and my friends, was so terrifying, I cried myself to sleep almost every night that entire year. My roots are planted here, I was raised in the American culture, and I felt like an outsider in Japan. That year that I lived in Japan, I was grateful I got to connect with my origins, but it never really felt like home to me. And my heart was yearning to come back home.
Today I call Los Angeles my permanent residence. I have many friends from all different backgrounds- some who are also immigrants like I am. They come from various ethic and religious backgrounds and every day I learn so much from them. It is such a beautiful thing to be surrounded by diversity and I truly feel like it has made me a well rounded person. This is what my parents fought so hard for. This is why they brought us here in the first place. My heart goes out to anyone who is scared right now. I know what it feels like to not know if the place you love so much can be called home anymore. I know how terrifying it must be to not know what your future looks like. But I promise I will fight for you. I promise to speak up for you. There is no room for hate and intolerance in America.
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Photos by Alex Perez