Commentary: An Iranian refugee on becoming American – legally, then in spirit

It’s lucky that my mother and I were admitted as refugees to America before the topic of immigration became so contentious. If the current laws were to change to add skills or financial requirements, we could have never gotten in. Hell, I myself, a bitter teenager then, thought us perfectly useless and was stunned that anybody wanted us at all. We came empty-handed in 1985, without even suitcases to declare at Customs. And without any English, for that matter. On my first outing with a young man I dearly wanted to impress, I did not understand the waitress when she asked if I preferred Coke to Pepsi.
What I had a lot of was anger. Anger at having been ejected from my homeland, Iran. Anger at having lost not only the people and places I loved, but, above all, the language I adored and had hoped to make a career writing in. Anger at the elite who had promised that the 1979 revolution would bring us freedom and democracy. Anger at America because I was the product of the post-revolutionary education system that blared “Death to America” every morning in the schoolyard. Having objected to America for so long to now be at its mercy was no picnic.

Reuters, August 24, 2016