I am an immigrant. I bought the ticket to the “American dream” of respect and value of intelligence, hard work and diversity, and freedom of expression. I moved to this country in 1990 because I felt respected as a woman and as a professional and I did not have to explain myself to machistas who devalued my abilities because of my gender. I moved here because Family Medicine was alive and vibrant and I wanted to be part of its movement. Family Medicine’s movers and shakers were the magnet to an specialty that has become part of my core values.
I felt happy to have my mom and sister join me in the US in 1994, specially when my sister came “out of the closet”, and I thought then, that she would have to fight less for her rights here than in South America. I became a citizen when my son was born. Interestingly, I am married to the son of Italian-Americans and Polish-Americans who warned me I should be careful and give our child an “American middle name”, just in case things turned bad for those with “foreign sounding names”, (as it had happened to Italians in the 60s and 70s).
Working in this country, I encountered an amazingly hard working community of Latinos who often co-exists and lives in the shadows and the woodwork of everyone’s existence, from cooking to cleaning, from service to customer care, from street to hospitals, I have been surrounded by amazing people who originated in Mexico, and Central and South America, proud and hard working, often without permits to be here legally, yet always proudly contributing to society. Perhaps because of the ability to understand an immigrant’s life, I have had patients coming from every corner of the world, speaking many languages, who have enriched my life with their stories.
I will never regret my move, or my choice of country. Yet today I have a heavy heart. Even when I value and respect freedom of expression, I find Mr Trumps’ rhetoric sickening, divisive, violent, racist and in-congruent with what I thought were some of America’s most cherished values: Equality and tolerance.
I sometimes wonder… If I had tried to immigrate to the US under Trump’s proposed policies… Would I have been considered to be un-American, unworthy of permission to enter the country? I admire the hard work of immigrants -regardless of legal status… Would that have been considered subversive? I am respectful of every religion, and as a doctor I care for Muslim families who are both US born and immigrants… Will that be considered ideologically dangerous? I participated in a hunger strike when I was 19 years old, asking for the right to an open and popular university education during the Argentine dictatorship. The rector, and soon after, the Minister of Education resigned as a result of students’ actions…. Would that have labeled me “capable of destabilizing a government”?
I am “ideologically certified” to care, to work hard, to respect, to build understanding, to cure and to promote health, to educate, to call inequities when I see them, but I am loosing myself in despair… His rhetoric is so pervasive…. Trump’s horrible circus continues to be well attended every night. Many are excited and exalted by what they consider very powerful speeches. Will there be a point of safe return?