What a hopeful first-generation immigrant wants you to remember on Election Day.

We have the choice to determine what tomorrow will look like. Let's not get it wrong.

When I was a first-generation immigrant kid in the late-1980s, Ronald Reagan was president.

It was a big deal. I didn't even know whether he was Republican or Democrat, but I knew he was a good man. People liked him. He had my family and my community's respect. I also knew he had been an actor, but that wasn't what defined him or his presidency.

Image by J. David Ake/AFP/Getty Images.


When I was a kid, I could walk to and from Arizona to Mexico without too much of a fuss.

Because I'm the only U.S. citizen in my immediate family (born in Tucson, Arizona), I always felt a special sense of pride in being able to say "U.S. citizen" before the customs agent waved me across.

When I was kid, I wasn't scared the government would deport my parents.

Maybe it's because I knew my parents and my older brother and sister had permanent residence cards. They became U.S. citizens about 10 years ago, once I was grown up, but still, I never even worried about the words "resident alien" on my family's passport cards when I was younger.

Image by iStock.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t aware of the fact that I was an “other.”

When I turned on the television, I never saw families that looked like mine, but I was oblivious that I wasn't represented in Hollywood. As long as I enjoyed the actors and the storyline in any given TV show or movie, life was grand. Representation wasn't an issue because I was unaware I was a minority. No one treated me differently. I thought everyone was just like me, Mexican-American — made up of two cultures.

When I was a kid, it really did feel like you could accomplish anything with hard work. It was "Morning in America."

My family was considered middle-to-upper class. It felt like we had a fighting chance in the land of opportunity. My father was the owner of a successful auto parts wholesale warehouse. He also owned at least a dozen rental properties on both sides of the border that kept us living comfortably. It felt like that sense of financial security would last forever. The devastating devaluation of the peso wasn't an issue ... yet.

My family and I posing at one of my dad's business locales in Mexico in the late-1980s.

When I was a kid, I knew that people were engaged in the political process, but they didn’t live and breathe it like some do today.

I remember picking up snippets of news here and there, hearing about politics from my parents, neighbors, maybe teachers at school. But there was no constant barrage of information. I knew who my parents were endorsing in election years. I also knew who was running in the Mexican presidential election. But that news was delivered either via newspaper or the TV news, promptly at 5 or 10 p.m. That was it.

When I was a kid, I felt that if I got a good grades, everything else would just fall into place.

My parents didn’t have to worry about how to pay for my tuition. I felt secure that the opportunity to attend college was readily available if I worked hard and earned the grades to get in. I knew it was up to me how far I wanted to get in school too. The idea of "how are my parents going to pay for this?" was never a factor when I was accepted into grad school. The fact that I don't have student debt is a blessing.

Image via iStock.

Now, I’m an adult. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. And I see things with a lot more clarity and cautious optimism.

Today, I'm worried about my nieces and nephews and their children, and about first-generation immigrant kids everywhere.

I want them to have what I had growing up. I want them to live without fear of being discriminated against, without the financial burden of taking out high-interest loans to pay for college. I want them to know that, in spite of the constant downpour of any salacious or unnecessary details related to the 2016 presidential election, the process matters.

Today, I have no idea what the border checkpoints would look like under a Trump presidency, let alone his plan to build a giant 10-foot-tall wall.

Part of the proposed structure would be built right smack in my hometown. It would send a divisive message of "us versus Mexico" — literally and figuratively.

The border fence that separates Nogales, Arizona, from Nogales, Mexico. Image by Alicia E. Barrón.

Today, many kids are scared to death that their parents will be deported back to their country of origin.

Kids today are more aware about social issues (like illegal immigration) than I was as a child in the late-1980s, and a presidential candidate publicly calling Mexicans "rapists" and "criminals" is part of that. Some kids saw that and they are well aware of how that candidate feels. There were no minced words. They worry that they don't belong.

Today, many minority kids are more likely to feel like they are a minority.

The racial divide has never been more apparent.

Image via iStock.

Today, for many folks, America can feel more like the land of little-to-no-opportunity.

If Trump wins, it feels like another win for “the man,” for the top 1% — with nothing to offer lower- and middle-class families. I worry that the opportunity to get ahead will not be the same for everyone across the board. I worry that the children of my family and friends won't be able to fight for their dreams. I fear that Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric will further rub off on society.

Today, politics are everywhere.

We no longer have to wait for the daily newspaper or the evening news to hear the highlights. We’re infiltrated with every single news tidbit throughout the day via social media and constant TV coverage. It's exhausting. It’s difficult. It's almost impossible to have an objective opinion about the world (much less politics) because of the filter bubble.

Sometimes, I fear that we are all over-informed and that we're not talking about the issues that affect our everyday lives, like LGBTQ rights or who will be appointed to the Supreme Court.

The last presidential debate. Image by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

Today, I worry about how the heck kids are paying for college.

Today, even if you have stellar grades, you worry about how to pay for your education. Today, if I wanted an education, I would be one of millions taking out a student loan. The last thing I want is for my nieces and nephews to graduate with a mountain of debt I never had to endure.

But despite all of this, today, I am still hopeful we can make progress.

What I had and saw as a child in America can still exist, in some sense. And the choice to make progress is ours to make.

We can choose to tell -generation immigrant kids that they matter and they belong in America. We can choose to make progress on issues that affect all kinds of people, not just the wealthiest among us. We can choose to create systems that make education accessible, not prohibitive. We can choose progress and more opportunities for all. We can choose to live in a country where dreams come true. We can choose all of this because we live in a democracy.

As a first-generation immigrant, I'm incredibly proud to be an American.

I was given opportunities to succeed. I am where I am today because of America.

That's why it's super important to me, and to other people who know how great America is, that we all cast our vote for the kind of America that doesn't build walls or function on fear. On Nov. 8, let's not waste this choice that we have.

There's way too much at stake.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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