I love stories about immigrant families who come to this country and succeed. There’s something about these stories I can’t resist — hearing them is like watching a Frank Capra movie.
I stumbled on one inspirational immigrant story the other day while reporting on the Obama administration’s plan to end homelessness in the United States in the next decade.
I was reading a q-and-a with Adolfo Carrion, director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy, on the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ website.
Carrion talks about the administration’s efforts to prevent homelessness and how his extended family was touched by homelessness. Then he describes the experience of his immigrant parents. Here’s what he said:
“My inspiration comes from the experience and perspective of my parents. My father and mother came to New York City from Puerto Rico in the 1950’s. They came without their parents, to join older siblings and be part of the strong manufacturing sector that offered opportunity to so many as a gateway into the American middle class. They worked hard, learned English, and despite suffering workplace and housing discrimination, let alone the difficulties of social and cultural adjustment and integration, never lost hope in the enduring promise of the American Dream.
“This may sound cliché to some, but for my family it’s not. In one generation we went from parents with little formal education to all four kids graduating from graduate school and going on to successful professions. I have no doubt that my kids will achieve and contribute even more to the American enterprise. This is what keeps me going: that you can go from a sub-basement apartment in a 1960’s Brooklyn ghetto to working for the President of the United States in one generation. We need to make sure every kid has this kind of opportunity. But every time we let a family fall through a broken safety-net, what falls down is our promise and potential. We must strengthen the social safety net in America.”
Whether you think the plan will soar to greatness or careen off a cliff, you can’t help but be impressed with that family’s success story.
By the way, the plan, “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness,” can be found here.