As an immigrant to the United States, I have often chosen to observe American politics and culture from the sidelines. Given my status as a guest in this country, I felt it a bit uncouth and, in some sense, risky to speak freely about my thoughts and impressions on the socio-economic and political goings-on in America. After all, I couldn’t vote. Neither could I challenge the narratives I heard in the media and all around me in any meaningful way. My wife especially feared I could jeopardize my legal status in the US were I to ruffle the wrong feathers or draw undue attention to my family. This year and this book change all that. After 17 long years of living, working, and quietly raising a family as an immigrant in the United States, I have finally embarked on the long-awaited path to American citizenship.
All around the country, I see a marked increase in anti-American sentiment, with some prominent politicians and other influential people going as far as to call for the complete dismantling of the American economic and political system. America’s founding and history are being distorted at every turn and some even contend that America’s existence has done more harm than good in the world. As one who chose to come to America, it is disheartening to see the sociopolitical turmoil wrought by these increasingly common and widespread sentiments about America. It is heartrending to see a generation being raised to feel ashamed of their country or to see America treated as some sort of aberration that must be corrected. When I think about my four American children, I wonder what the future holds for them, and whether they will ever see and know the America I fell in love with long before I ever set foot on this land.
This book is an ode to my 17-year journey as an immigrant in the United States. It details my hopes and fears, my triumphs and failures, and ultimately, why I continue to have a deep and abiding love for America. I wrote this book also to help my children truly understand the awesome privilege they have to be citizens of this great country, and why I believe becoming American will soon be the greatest privilege of my life. I am not naive to the challenges we face as a country, neither am I oblivious to the hard work still needed to make life just and equitable for all those who call this home. I sincerely believe that in spite of our imperfect history, America is still a shining city on the hill, where the “tired, poor and huddled masses” of the world, can still “yearn to breathe free”.