(Foreign Policy in Focus) — As I looked onto the tens of thousands of people proudly waving American flags at April’s immigration rally in Washington, D.C., I couldn’t help but think of my immigrant parents. Both of my parents grew up in poor farming towns in Mexico. Driven by a lack of economic opportunity and a desire for a brighter future, they escaped to the United States in their late teens. They were able to become citizens through the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which included Ronald Reagan’s so-called “amnesty.”
My father made his way through odd menial jobs — from dishwasher to construction worker — and eventually settled in as a truck driver. Today, he owns three trucks and manages a small car-hauling business. My mother managed the household and made sure both my sister and I got college educations. In essence, my family was able to achieve some measure of the increasingly elusive American dream.