One man’s story on how immigration to the U.S. and other countries can add both cultural flavor and business savvy
As politicians and folks in coffee shops debate illegal immigration in the U.S., they should ask themselves why people leave their homes, safety nets and families to make it in another country. Their stories should cause people to reflect, think and genuinely care about the people involvedand not the economic or political advantage that might be gained by legalizing immigration.
Im a fourth-generation immigrant. The previous three generations of my family uprooted their relatives and moved to other countries, settling on three separate continents. I hope that each of their stories about leaving what they know, providing for their families and working hard to develop something for future generations might just give you some perspective as to who these people might be in America today.
From Spain to the Philippines
Julian Jimenez, my great grandfather, left Spain in the late 1800s (likely due to the turbulent political situation) for the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony, for an opportunity to create a better life. Julian wouldve left Spain via ship, and the trip couldnt have been easy. He left his country with only stories of opportunity and sailed across the globe clinging to the notions of success, security and happiness. I never learned the details of Julian and his accomplishments, but I do know he established a greater than average life for his family in the Philippines, something that would have been difficult to achieve in his home country.
From the Philippines to China
Antonio Jimenez, my grandfather, was born into a Spanish family in the Philippines. He journeyed back to Spain to find a bride and, after doing so, headed to China, where he took over a family business his new in-laws owned in order to create a comfortable life for his new family. They started out in Han Kow City, where they packaged and shipped dried and salted intestines for the Spanish market.
This wasnt an easy business. My uncle tells me stories of going to the plant where the smell was awful and how labor intensive the process of packaging the skins in barrels with salt to make sure the skin would last the long journey to Spain. It wasnt a glamorous business but it provided well for my grandfathers family. After his wife gave birth to their second child, she died of what would be known today as the common flu. Shortly thereafter, he travelled to the Philippines to reconnect with a previous acquaintance (now my grandmother) who subsequently married and followed him to China. In the early 1930s, China was a new and intimidating place for someone like my grandmother who knew very little about the country.