Christie Haugh Health center manager

Christie Haugh Health center manager

• I guess it would mean you are part of this country that supports individual freedom and the ability to make your own decisions. I feel like if you were to be a pure American in the truest sense it would be that you are tolerant of other people and recognize the importance of individual freedoms and the right to make your life into what you want it to be.

• When I was growing up there was always a parade in my hometown that I would go to but as I moved I didn’t really have a tradition like that anymore.

• I feel like being from the Northeast sort of becomes a more identifying factor, like I am a Northerner who is living in the South. • [When I went to Costa Rica] people would notice me as a small, blond white woman but not necessarily as an American. It was just really interesting to talk to people and find out the cultural differences. When people found out that I lived five hours away from my mother they could not even believe how I could survive. It was interesting to see the differences between what is considered normal or necessary.

Giovanna Hurtado Undocumented activist

• From my personal view about myself and my own experiences and especially where I’ve grown up, being a girl from a small town, people around here, I’m the type of person who listens to country music. I’ve done the all-American thing: do athletics, do good in school. I’ve strived to go to college, make good grades in school, be an upstanding citizen, productive citizen of your community.

• I think personally for me I’ve had a lot of challenges for the fact that I’m undocumented. I can’t be a fully productive citizen because I can’t get a good job, I can’t go to school, I can’t afford school. But in my heart I’m American because this is all the memories that I’ve had. Down there I had cheerleading practice. Down the road was my high school where I used to cheerlead at. I’ve done things that kids do on an everyday basis that it’s normal for them, but for me it seems as if it’s different because I’m undocumented or I have a different skin color or I’m just not what you would perceive would be the typical undocumented person or what people in their mind think. Because me, I’m just an American girl here in Jonesville, North Carolina trying to live my life and create a future for myself and be a productive citizen of North Carolina and this nation.

• We’re always with the threat of deportation. We could get pulled over. We don’t have licenses. We could get pulled over and the officer wants to take us in or arrest us, you know, he can. We’re always with that risk.

• It feels just lost. You feel lost. You work odd-end jobs and you just think: Is this my life? Is this where my talents are going to be at? Is this where my intelligence is going to be at — sitting here going through life? You feel really lost. Then you feel hopeless, depressed. Many of us have gone through periods of depression. There’s been some of us who have taken our lives because the weight of being undocumented is just too much — to be told, “You can’t have a future” because of a nine-digit number is devastating.

Giovanna Hurtado came to northwest North Carolina when she was 6. She is now 22.

Jim Rumley Real estate investor

• As an American am you have the freedom to do pretty much whatever you want to within the law. You can be whoever you want.

The way you travel, the way you earn a living, the way you educate yourself — we are unlimited in many ways. You can have a life that is blessed in many ways. I’m fat and happy. I couldn’t be that way in a lot of other places.

• I’ve been blessed, and a lot of people don’t have things as good as I do. But the thing is that when you have the opportunities that all of us have as Americans, you have so many who don’t take advantage of that. I’m an ardent supporter of people who do what they want to do — in business, in politics, in relationships. You can’t do that in most countries.

Jim Rumley served in the US Marine Corps from 1975-’93

Pattie Curran Activist

• I’m proud to be an American. It’s the greatest country in the world. I think of freedom and liberty. This is the only nation in the world where I could have escaped my family — the situation I was born into. A lot of people know my story. My brother committed suicide. One died of a drug overdose. A third one has been in and out of the state pen three times. I was born into this family with a lot of drugs and alcohol, and being put in jail. And only in America because of the American Dream — and the American Dream is not just a mansion on the hill — it’s if you apply yourself, if you work hard, anyone, anyone can succeed. And I really believe had I been born in another country I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to succeed. And that makes me proud to be an American.

• And I understand why people want to come here — because they want the same opportunity I was given. • My brother committed suicide when I was 15. My second brother didn’t die until I had already graduated college and was at my first job. I remember joining the Army. It’s kind of a surreal feeling because I came from this family where none of my brothers had graduated high school. I think one got his GED. Coming from that and to be able to join the military and to be able to go to college and to know that I had done it by serving my country — that’s such a great opportunity. It makes me tear up when I…. You know because it is such a great opportunity, and only in America would you have that opportunity.

• I was able to get academic and athletic scholarships too, but the Army National Guard paid for my tuition to a state college. For me it was huge because when you figure coming from my family — my parents both worked, but they didn’t have money to send me to college. I think only in the United States would you have that opportunity.

• With my boys I don’t put up with much. We live in a great nation, and there are no excuses. Obviously, people have mental illnesses, but normal, everyday, average people there’s no reason why they can’t succeed.