When I came to America three years ago the words “I believe in America!” from The Godfather were going round and round in my head. In spite of what Donald Trump had already been up to by then, I still believed that America was a nation of immigrants. Why did I come? Because of the poverty that has hit my homeland, Greece. I came here with just a few clothes, some books, and a laptop.
Five days after I arrived I got my first job in New York City: $120 a day as an electrician’s assistant. Next I became a carpenter’s assistant, and then because my hands were good and capable, I became a carpenter, and earned better money. I worked every day, tired and dusty, but my wallet was full and fat. At first, I stayed in a small room in Queens, then later I rented a studio in Brooklyn. Then I heard that because it gets very cold in winter work at the construction sites would fall dramatically. So I was fortunate when I heard there was a position going in the kitchen of a fine restaurant in midtown Manhattan. I ran there immediately, met the boss, and started work. The hours were long but after I’d shown what I could do they put me in charge of the pastry section. Suddenly I found myself preparing desserts for people like Robert De Niro, Serena Williams, Stephen M. Ross, Leonardo DiCaprio, Fareed Zakaria, Garry Kasparov, Didier Drogba, and many others from wealthy CEOs and UN ambassadors, to well-heeled Americans who brought their families to celebrate special occasions like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, or even a good harvest at the New York Stock Exchange. It was a privilege for me to prepare their desserts.
My income started to accumulate. I opened a bank account. I was able to live well in the great New York City of mythical status, adoring all my experiences of its splendid multicultural life. Having come from Greece, for me it was like living in the Athens of 5th century BC, during the golden age of Pericles. In New York you are encircled by an Amazon of positive influences; just a short train or car-ride away are libraries, universities, theatres, cinemas, concerts, and recitals. But at the same time, because I am illegal I am scared every time I spot a member of the New York Police Department. I tremble with fear. In my hands I always hold a book, believing that knowledge – as well as logic – cannot be illegal, that my book may offer me some protection! But I know that at any time policemen could fall upon me like a pack of piranhas. Why? Because even though I work so hard I am what they call “an illegal immigrant”. With the pandemic, of course, the things drastically changed but America needs my love, no?
I pay taxes on what I buy, wherever I see the elderly I help them, when I visit the park I pick up other people’s litter, I use face mask to protect others, I take care to recycle, and besides buying my daily necessities I spend money on entertainment. So far I’ve bought $5,000 worth of books. I’ve read the Constitution and I’m a regular reader of The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. I am active in the social media, helping the campaign for the election of the next president of America. I support the candidate who speaks out for all poor Americans struggling with debt and pervasive inequality. Ιt is Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the Democratic Party. On the other side, it is so sad that most of the Greek Americans are supporting the Republican Party, with teeth and nails and have Trump as an idol.
I am a useful member of this society. I love America and, to use a Greek saying, it cuts my feet off when I hear Donald Trump, the President of the United States, talking so badly of immigrants who have entered the United States illegally. For Trump truth is the servant and not the master. Yes, a small percentage of illegal immigrants are criminals, gang members, lazy and destructive to this country, but the vast majority of illegal immigrants are honest and hardworking, and some of them are even highly educated people who strengthen this country. I am one of them, and I don’t exaggerate when I say that I love this Promised Land!
It has to be noted, that, If we look at the numbers, an estimated 11 millions of people in America are Illegal, undocumented and unauthorized immigrants. The 11 million immigrants are being hit especially hard, from the pandemic and now, the controllable fears of deportation, have been replaced with the uncontrollable fears of survival. For them, there is already, a humanitarian crisis, and a social disaster under the spectre of coronavirus that is unfolding out of sight. The illegal immigrants must fight for survival against all odds. Rolling up my sleeves again, I am one of them!
Why have I written this? Because I want it heard loudly and clearly that illegal immigrants are people who contribute to America, who support this country in many different ways. The making of America is a work in progress and many of today’s illegal immigrants will be tomorrow’s finest law-abiding citizens. What America needs, at the moment, is the kind of progressive patriotism advocated by Former president Barack Obama.
This land is vast: there is enough space in it for all the brave and all the good. I have now met a Greek American woman with whom I plan to get married and start a family. I want to live in a united America (not an agree and polarized society), respected around the world (especially now that there is a once-in-a-century pandemic) and this is the reason why I endorse Joe Biden for President. As a Greek I have one more reason to do it: I do believe that Joe Biden as the President, he will be better for Hellas, having in mind that neighboring Turkey is exercising a very old foreign policy treating Greece, as if it was still a province of the Ottoman Empire. I can’t vote myself at the coming election, you understand, but please, you go out and vote. Vote for liberty, justice, equality, climate change and family. God bless America!
*Takis Analos is a service industry worker in Manhattan and a new immigrant in America. Dimitris Eleas (that wrote about the truth story of Takis Analos) is a New York City-based writer and political activist. His writings in Greek language have appeared in books, journals and newspapers. You can contact him via his e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.