It’s easy to believe in a definitive American immigration story. So much of this country’s mythos is built on that idea. (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …”) It foretells a fairy tale ending where parents have worked hard, sacrificed much, and settled their children into the new country. The family has assimilated, and the life that came before is a distant memory.

But it’s more complicated than that. The telling of immigration stories exposes a rich array of experiences: loss, longing, duality, triumph and contradiction.

When Latino colleagues from across NPR shared their families’ immigration stories for Hispanic Heritage Month, their essays were full of things achieved and things surrendered; cultures celebrated and cultures lost; decisions made by choice and by coercion. Camille Salas, a librarian, wrote about her grandfather’s decision to join the Navy in exchange for U.S. citizenship. Cecily Meza-Martinez, of News Operations, wrote about her family’s hardships and achievements, which included a role in building Disneyland. Producer Ana Lucia Murillo wrote about how her father crossed the border from Mexico to the U.S. in the bottom of a van marked “Laundromat.”

Every family came to U.S. with an idea in mind of what its experience might be. But what shines through in these stories is the stark difference between expectation and reality.

We’ll share some of their immigration stories here with you. Then, if you have one, we’ll ask you to tell us yours.

When These Latinos Tell Immigration Stories, They Push Beyond Fairy Tales

Illustrations: Chelsea Beck/NPR


Great footage for showing exercising machines and typical 1940s swimsuits and hairstyles. Fast swing music on soundtrack.

STAFF PICK | Today is the last day to see Art AIDS America at the Bronx Museum.

This show is the first exhibition to examine the deep and ongoing influence of the AIDS crisis on American art and culture. The exhibition includes works by Félix González-Torres, Derek Jackson, Kia Labeija, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Martin Wong, among others.

Image: David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Buffalo), 1988–89. Vintage gelatin silver print, signed on verso, 28⅝ × 35¾ inches. Collection of Michael Sodomick, Courtesy of the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York

It's the fathers of sons who can fix misogyny
"As a father of daughters" is a well-worn phrase, trod out every time men feel the need to distance themselves from misogynistic comments or behavior.
By Steven I. Weiss

Fathers of daughters may well feel a personal sense of outrage – but it’s the fathers of sons who could, ultimately, do something to mitigate or end the misogyny that taints our culture. 

As a father of sons, it’s my responsibility to help fix these problems. Just as I speak with my children about other issues of civil rights and discrimination, I speak with them about the difficulties women have historically faced at the hands of men. I have to speak in an age-appropriate fashion when it comes to sexual activity and predation, but the basic concept of consent is something every child can understand. 

We need to raise our boys to be conscious and critical of the culture they enter. Confronting misogyny around them will make our boys not just individuals who do no harm, but agents of change. When they hear someone make a sexist joke, our boys should be the kind to say, “that’s not funny”. When they hear an unfortunate generalisation about women, they should be the ones to interrupt and say, “that’s not true”. Our boys should report abuse and harassment they see to the authorities and avoid ever engaging in a “bro code” of silence.