Meet my family. Refugees from Vietnam.
My dad, Kiet, saw the last American helicopter leave the capital and dodged bullets as southern Vietnam surrendered to the northern communists. His parents sold everything to send their youngest son (of 9) in a boat out of the country.
Meet my mom, Camdi. A poor kid who scrambled together money to buy her way on to a boat out of her country. Both not knowing where their boats would take them. But anywhere was better than there. Anywhere was better than dead.
This is the story of refugees. Two people who found each other after years apart. Two people who gave up their money, families and lives they knew, for one chance out of hell. And when they finally made it out, when they finally found their home in the U.S., they worked and worked to find a way to simply live. Every day, grateful that this country gave them a chance. Grateful for the air they breathe.
They built a restaurant, grew it, gave away food to any homeless man or woman who came to their doors. If you forgot your wallet, they would say come back another time, we trust you. They worked to treat every person with the care that they received when they first arrived to this foreign land.
My brother, sister and I grew up here, in a small home in a great neighborhood. A household that was rooted in gratitude. We were always told how lucky we were to be here -- safe and together. I never knew how truly lucky I was until today as I see families being torn apart. Lost from each other when already being lost from their home country.
My parents worked all the time. They ran the whole thing themselves, squirreling away every penny to pay for our college. To pay for our simple clothes. They brought us to work. The restaurant was our baby sitter. Carrots were our drum sticks. Rice bags our pillows. Homework was done between the dinner rush and bussing tables.
My mom would come home with giant blisters from the oil burner. My dad developed arthritis in his hands at a young age. His stubborn self still refuses to see someone about it. Our house always smelled of the boiled eggs they used to rub on their sore joints and the herbs they used for their magic soup. I remember going to school and kids teasing me about the smell of eggs on my clothes.
Today, my brother is a programmer for a startup in Minneapolis and builds fun apps on the side. He has two amazing daughters who are at the top of their class and love to dance and play violin. My sister works for a logistics company and manages giant corporate deliveries. They both own little homes in Minneapolis and are huge sports fans. Both are married to amazing Midwestern people. I’m the founder of the first and largest coworking community in Phoenix. Every day, I get to help people realize their full potential, build a life for themselves and contribute to the local community around them. Some are quite literally changing the world.
We pay taxes. Our kids go to school here and laugh and play just like all other kids. I was teased for looking different. I was in special classes because I had trouble with reading. I love burgers, ranch and Mac and Cheese. I love it here. I’m lucky to have a handsome, unbelievablly hot, feminist husband and a fiesty daughter who challenges me to leave her a world in a better place than when I received it. Sometimes I’m not sure I can do that.
This is the story of my refugee family.
Now take it and apply it to every immigrant you know and tell me how it makes sense to take me away from my parents. Our stories are not very different. Look at this picture of me and my siblings and my parents with their success perms, incredible work ethic, empathy and tell me how I would have been better off separated from them. Tell me how this story ends if my parents were turned away when they were found in the middle of the ocean.
Today I signed to support FWD.us as a coalition member with a goal of supporting an immigration policy that rebuilds the middle class, creates a path to citizenship for the undocumented, and smart border security. FWD.us #CelebrateImmigrants