What Is An American? | Teen Ink

What Is An American? MAG

November 6, 2008
By thelastharpy SILVER, Granby, Connecticut
thelastharpy SILVER, Granby, Connecticut
8 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Love is selfless--and it's requited. Anything less is merely glorified infatuation."

When I asked my father this question, he laughed and shook his head. I have a knack for asking the hard ones. But as our nation struggles with the issue of illegal immigration, we don’t bother to ask this of ourselves.

The first time this question occurred to me was while I was watching “American Idol” a few years ago. A beautiful Russian performer was struggling to get her green card. The judges loved her but rejected her all the same. My mother said it was because they wanted an American idol. I blinked and asked her, “What’s more American than an immigrant?” She sighed.

Every single American citizen is an immigrant, even Native Americans, who came across the Bering Strait thousands of years ago. Homo sapiens originated in Africa, and every other place we settled we were strangers, right? But the United States is unique because it once welcomed all immigrants. The majority of Americans have ancestors who came over barely a hundred years ago. My earliest family immigrated scarcely three generations ago. And so we must ask ourselves: is it right to deny entrance to people who, like our ancestors, want to make a new home and are willing to work for the opportunities we have?

If you really think about it, the people who risk life and limb to come to our country have a higher opinion of U.S. ideals than a lot of us do. Their ancestors have lived in the same place for hundreds of years, perhaps more. Can you imagine the courage it takes to leave all that behind?

Furthermore, we owe immigrants a lot. For example, our fresh produce is cultivated by migrant workers, a harvest picked in shame. I ­believe the very least we can do is grant them citizenship, minimum wage, and schooling for their children. In addition to some of the more skilled jobs immigrants do, we take many advantages for granted – aisles of produce, janitors at fast-food restaurants – that are made possible by the people some scorn and wish to remove from our country.

Some say if we let everyone in, we won’t have room. We’re the third-largest country on the planet. There’s room, and immigration is happening regardless. Let’s screen for criminals but let others in. After all, can’t we share Thanksgiving with the laborers who have more than earned their wages?

The author's comments:
I hope my piece will encourage others to think about this issue.

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This article has 71 comments.

on Oct. 29 2011 at 1:25 pm
daughterofeve14 BRONZE, Adger, Alabama
4 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
You quit once, you'll quit again! -Tyler Austin Evans.

I totally agree with you. I am not an imigrant. I was born here. Yes, most of my blood is Cherokee, Chocataw, and Blackfoot, but I do have some English in me and my English family was suppose to get here on the Titanic, but then it sank but they survived. But thats not my point. My point is Im not an imigrant, and neither is the person that wrote this article I dont think. 

on Oct. 29 2011 at 1:21 pm
daughterofeve14 BRONZE, Adger, Alabama
4 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
You quit once, you'll quit again! -Tyler Austin Evans.

Sorry, I didnt mean that comment. I typed the wrong thing. /: Sorry, I meant to say Im almost full Native American and I kinda agree with you but I kinda dont. 

on Oct. 29 2011 at 1:13 pm
daughterofeve14 BRONZE, Adger, Alabama
4 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
You quit once, you'll quit again! -Tyler Austin Evans.

I dont agree that Native Americans are immigrants. Im full Native American. And yes, I agree except for the Native American thing. Weve been around for centuries I think. 

on Oct. 13 2011 at 1:42 pm
RaquelAnonymous BRONZE, Mesa, Arizona
4 articles 12 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm slowly melting inside."

Wow. You expressed your idea very clearly. I love this article! :)

on Aug. 10 2011 at 12:15 pm
parker_01 BRONZE, Fort Worth, Texas
2 articles 1 photo 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Oh. You were serious."
-Vampire Academy-
"Every little girl should be told she's pretty; even if she isn't."
-Marilyn Monroe-

YOU ARE TRULY BRILLIANT. I have fallen in love with this article.

on Jun. 17 2011 at 10:08 pm
I gotta say this article. I think immigrants into America are some of the bravest people. My mother was an immigrant--her entire family actually. She's naturalized now. I mean if you actually pay attention you'll realize that more immigrants understand the history and governmental processes than those who've lived all their lives. Being an American is being a person who believes in the true values of what this country was built on. People who value freedom and liberties that they could never have in their native countries. This is a land of oppurnities and immigrants understand that better than most natives would. 

Ramsha S. said...
on Jun. 5 2011 at 9:41 pm
Don't let everyone in. Just the ones who want to come legelly and share the work with everyone :)

Sythan BRONZE said...
on Jun. 5 2011 at 2:17 pm
Sythan BRONZE, Livermore, California
1 article 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Do not fear to blister if you live a life in flame"

I agree with you, 100%

on Mar. 31 2011 at 8:45 pm
forsaken BRONZE, Mission Viejo, California
3 articles 3 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be who you are and speak your opinions,
because the people who matter, dont mind
the people who mind, dont matter.

i have thought about this issue. i hope my comment will encourage you to come back to reality. i agree with you but disagree more. here are some points you may not have thought about. how many homeless people would love to have all those jobs that illegal immigrants do? how much money is earned in America that is sent back to Mexico to immigrants families?, which means less money spent and circulated in America. My friend had his car stolen by a kid who was caught and deported for the 14th time. Why is it that we need to listen or learn Spanish because of the growing Mexican population that doesnt speak English, but if we went to another country we would need to learn their language.immigrants come here because their country is sh*t. we fought for our freedoms and if people keep running to America, they wont stand and fight for theirs. if America is struggling right now , why would we take on more problems. immigrant use to be welcomed when there was plenty of opportunities for everyone, but now we dont have enough to share. i dont want to be limited to having one child like in China because their population is to big. Last but not least I AM NOT AN IMMIGRANT AND I BET YOUR NOT EITHER. i was born in California , i didnt move to America. we may have ancestors who immigrated here but i did not.

fartless said...
on Jan. 24 2011 at 8:23 am
fartless, Balls, Indiana
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
You made a good point about everyone technically being an immigant. The issue isn't that America doesn't welcome immigrants searching for a place to call home. It is actually with those looking to cheat the current system of becoming a legal citizen and coming over illegally. When they do that they end up taking away from the people already here and give their people a bad name. America is a melting pot since it is a blend of so many cultures and has a rich history. So you're right, there is no clear definition of an American citizen. Then again, there is no clear definition on a lot of things.

T.R. Trevino said...
on Jan. 11 2011 at 8:59 pm

The way many Americans seem to see it is something like this: The ideal American has a decent job, a family, a good education, born American, and is 'normal'.

Now, let's be realistic. There, in my opinion, is no such thing as an 'ideal American'. Our bloodlines started in faraway places, we are a blend of religions, races, sexualities, degrees of education, and so fourth.

In my opinion (once again), we should allow immagration, so long as the immagrants work and get treated just like the rest of us. And are here legally.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

on Dec. 19 2010 at 2:25 pm
horsie_luver SILVER, Tigard, Oregon
5 articles 1 photo 56 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I cannot live without books."-Thomas Jefferson

That wasn't my point.

Peregrine said...
on Dec. 18 2010 at 10:47 pm
Peregrine, Roosterville, Other
0 articles 0 photos 38 comments

Favorite Quote:
I am thoughtful. -Jon Stewart

USA=United States of America (US or America for short)

Americans are named after their country. They're just not called United States of Americans because that makes no sense.

on Dec. 3 2010 at 10:28 am
americans simply do not exists. It is a false statement in which to achieve normalness.

on Nov. 22 2010 at 10:33 pm
coolstudygirl GOLD, Vermilion, Ohio
16 articles 0 photos 38 comments
If we let everyone in because we are the third largest country in the world that would be a waste. Because we wouldn't have enough resources for them all and they would be more pollution and they're won't be enough places for natural parks.

on Oct. 21 2010 at 4:04 pm
amberglow13 SILVER, Tulsa, Oklahoma
8 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Always remember that you are unique--just like everybody else."

it doesn't even sound like you read the article.

poppy_lin GOLD said...
on Sep. 26 2010 at 3:46 pm
poppy_lin GOLD, Latrobe, Pennsylvania
13 articles 0 photos 26 comments
ahem. you are american when you feel like you are part of that country, and you would like to a part of that country. sts231 if you don't like the article can be maybe nicer? i know people have different opinions, but express it in a kinder way.

on Aug. 13 2010 at 12:21 am
aishia_duh BRONZE, Columbus, Ohio
1 article 0 photos 43 comments

i agree...and good points :)


on Jul. 24 2010 at 4:52 pm
Hippiechick10 SILVER, One Stoplight Town, Connecticut
7 articles 0 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
Those who deny freedom to others , deserve it not for themselves. (Abe Lincoln)

awesome work! great points of view.

on Jun. 13 2010 at 6:02 pm
Karma_Chameleon SILVER, English, Indiana
8 articles 0 photos 236 comments

Favorite Quote:
To be able to say "I love you" one must first be able to say "I" - Ayn Rand

@sts231 - Try to leave some constructive critique on these articles, otherwise you lack of intelligence is obvious. By the way, you should have said, "waste" not "waist."  Good grammar usage, genius.