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In February of 1971, at the age of twenty-one my mother arrived from Guatemala to the United States. She was a teacher in her country of birth and brought those skills to her new home in the United States. Like many immigrants who came before her, she saw this country as the land of opportunity and she raised me with a deep pride in the United States and the promise that it holds.

As the daughter of immigrants, my story on immigration is a very personal one. It is the story of my young mother making her way first as a teacher in the U.S. school system and then in the corporate world, working her way up from the mail room to becoming a purchasing assistant at Kodak. She then left for her next stage of life in Florida after thirty years of loyal service to Kodak in Rochester, New York. It is also the story of my grandmother who worked at a garment factory in order to provide for her family. She reinvented herself several times and found a variety of work to help her husband meet the financial obligations of living in the United States.

I saw and lived firsthand how these women strengthened and contributed to the culture and economy of our local community while at the same time raising families who were committed to giving back as well. My little sister, now a mother of three herself, still lives in Rochester, New York and works in child protective services contributing to the well being of the children in the community.

My mother instilled in me her work ethic. Her pride and love of the place where she worked ran so deep that her dream was for her daughter to work there someday, and so after nearly four years of living abroad in Asia, I returned to the United States in 2000 and joined the Eastman Kodak company in part to fulfill my mother’s request.

The woman that I am today, the contributions that I have made throughout the various roles that I have held in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, my education itself at Ivy League institutions can all be traced back to my immigrant mother.

It is for my mother, my grandmother and all the other immigrant women who have contributed so much to this country that I am committed to working towards immigration reform. Given the contributions of women like my mom and my grand mom, immigration reform is good old fashioned common sense.

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