I had court today, so I could not just take the day off, but if you saw me reading the Express on the Metro when it showed that Jose Andres (who is from my father’s country) was closing some of his restaurants in the area today, you would have seen the biggest grin on my face– it went from ear to ear.
After court, as I ran some errands, I walked by a McDonald’s that was closed today. I was so proud, and stopped to take a picture so I could share it on social media. In the few minutes that I was there doing this, several people came up to me utterly confused, and they asked me “why is McDonald’s closed– I have never seen this.” I politely explained to everyone that asked that today was No Immigrants Day, and that many restaurants were either closed or working short-staffed while immigrants basically stayed home in order to raise awareness of how much we need them.
It dawned on me that I should call my father, who imports food from Spain and distributes it to the local restaurants in Miami, which is where he has lived the last 50 years. When I asked him if he went to work today, he responded, “of course, why?” I then explained to him that not only was his idol Jose Andres closing down today, but that even McDonald’s was shut down– and I sent him pictures as proof.
Of course, I understand that not everyone could stay home in protest of the discrimination immigrants have been facing for years, I was included in that category of workers that had to appear– unless I wanted to face disbarment. But in whatever way you can, I do hope you make an effort to acknowledge today that this country cannot function without immigrants. For me, it is the use of social media and this blog.
Let me be clear, this is a very personal issue to me. Both my parents are immigrants, who came here for a better life in the 60’s. They both worked very hard, and they were often mocked for their thick accents. Neither one was able to complete college or land a glamorous job, but to me they are both success stories. They have always done their best, never resorting to drugs or winding up in prison for trying to steal or cheat others. My parents have both become U.S. citizens, who pay their taxes, and they take pride in being a part of this country, which has given both them and me so much.
English is not my first language. I was an ESL student in grade school, and I had to work really hard to learn a new language quickly and make honor roll so that by the time I got to high school, I could win an scholarship through the Oliver Scholars to attend Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts. After that, my life was completely altered– thanks to the generosity of others, and the stellar education I was gifted.
Hard work does pay off, and this is a great country. It is a honor to serve it each and every day as I try to ensure its laws are followed. But if we did not allow for immigrants to come into the U.S. then I would not be here today, commenting for radio and tv, educating local law students (as well as my peers) as a guest lecturer, and trying my best to promote healthier families. Have I made my point clear? I hope so, because this is very personal.
No Immigrants Day– it is about time!
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.