Photo: Sidra Fatima

Omar M.


39, Software Engineer
Orange County, CA

Our migration to the US was definitely someting that had more to do with luck then it was careful planning. My father had a well to do position as an Avionics Engineer in Pakistan and even though most of his siblings had already migrated to the US, he continued to stay in Pakistan not having much motivation to go as we were very comfortable there. It was on a trip to New York, where as a family we were attending a wedding, when things came to a head, and a customs official basically gave my family an option to either stay in America or surrender his green card. Initially my father was ready to make the decision to go back but his older brother convinced him to stay. It was probably one of the hardest decisions my father has ever made and at the time felt like a mistake as we were leaving a comfortable life behind in Pakistan. Now with hindsight, and looking at all that my family has achieved, I realize that it was the best decision my father ever made. We have now been living in the US for the past 30+ years and I look forward to spending the rest of my life here because I am first and foremost an American. I think the one thing that many nonimmigrants don’t realize is how truly Amazing America is even at its worst. When I hear someone like Donald Trump constantly talk about how terrible things are, I just want him to go out, into the world, to any other non western country and see how things truly can be. I wish more Americans could do that and then realize that what makes America great, is its diversity, is its inclusiveness, is its freedoms that are for all people to enjoy. America is already a great country. What is happening now is what is going to make it otherwise unless we do something about it.

Why did your family come to the United States? To unite with family as most of my father's family were already here. For my Father, as he had a comfortable life and work in Pakistan, there wasn’t a big economic incentive to come as it was for many others but through some strange luck, we did migrate here in 1986 and have been here ever since.

What would the U.S. be missing out on if you or your people were banned? Watching the Super Bowl as a family while eating Biryani. Life doesn’t get much better than that.