This Coffee Doesn’t Brew Itself

“Are you ready to go?”

On the last day of third grade, my mother asked me this question, implying that I should take one last look at my school before we drive away for the last time. The school that I attended was located in the Philippines. At three years old, my father moved to Hawaii to earn more money than what he was making back home in order to better provide for his family.

Around two weeks before she popped the question, she told me something that would forever change my life:

“Kari, we are moving to Hawaii to be with Papa.”

At just eight years old, I was trying to wrap this concept around my head: I was about to leave my friends, childhood, and life behind to begin a new one in a different country. When my mother received her degree, she flew me and my sister to Honolulu.

When the plane landed on Honolulu, I was afraid. I did not know what to expect: would I make new friends? Would I be accepted? Would I thrive here?

Nine years later, I am fortunate enough to say that I have made new friends, I am accepted, and I am thriving.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to know about this beautiful place I am lucky enough to call home, it’s the aloha spirit. The way everybody on my ‘āina (land) treats each other like family through calling each other “cousin,” “brother,” or “aunty” & “uncle,” as well as the way everybody always smiles at you on the sidewalk even if they’ve never met you is the way my people show everybody that they are loved, accepted, and understood. In Hawaii, everyone is welcome, regardless of who you are and where you come from. The aloha spirit is our way of keeping the peace throughout the islands, and it is not a culture that can be found anywhere else in the world. However, there has been controversy about one of our cousins who is getting deported because he doesn’t supply the proper documentation in order to stay here.

An esteemed and successful Kona coffee farm owner of El Molinito Farm (Blair), Andres Magana Ortiz illegally arrived in the United States 30 years ago (KHON 2). Despite his daughters being born in Hawaii, the Department of Homeland Security & the Trump Administration are forcing him out of the United States because he does not have the proper legal documents that allows him to stay here with his family (Kelleher). Judge Reinhart of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of San Francisco states that if Ortiz gets deported, “He will be returned to Mexico, having spent 28 years successfully building a life and family in this country… [the] government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family” (Williams).

Currently, Ortiz “has been granted a 30-day reprieve on a deportation order” (AP). The fight for Ortiz to stay continues, with Hawaii’s Senator Mazie Hirono pleading Homeland Security “to exercise his discretionary authority to allow Magana Ortiz to stay in Hawaii” (AP).

As an immigrant, I am fortunate enough to have prospered in opportunity – I have traveled to different places, experienced different cultures, and met new people who opened many doors for me to succeed. Growing up in the United States allowed me to expand my horizons, and I am even fortunate enough to be attending college at the University of Puget Sound this fall.

When I think of the phrase, “The American Dream,” I am reminded of my parents. I am reminded of my father who left his family behind in order to make a better life for us. I am reminded of my mother who had to raise three kids on her own, taking on both roles of mother and father while she was earning her degree and teaching at the University of the Philippines. I am reminded of my parents and the sacrifices they have made in order to make sure that their daughters would not experience the hardships that they had to go through in order to ensure our safety and to secure our futures.

When I think of “The American Dream,” I think about how fortunate I am to embody that. I think about how fortunate I am to be able to grow up in the lovely Honolulu, Hawaii. I am provoked by the thought that children who grow up in different parts of the world may not have the same opportunities that I have been given just because of where they live in which they cannot control their circumstances, and how I would very much like to give back to those children once I receive my degree. I think about how many opportunities I have to give back to the community and to the world, all because two people decided that they wanted to secure a bright future for me.

When I think of “The American Dream,” I think about people like Andres who have made Hawaii their home for over three decades. I think about his success story, and how he was able to significantly contribute to the coffee community in Hawaii. I think about how he has dreamt of being successful for so long, just to go back to where his parents came from, which is the last place he would want to be in. I think about the grief that he feels, leaving the family & community he’s supported for so long, just because he himself isn’t supported by the government. I think about how he has come so far, reaching his “American Dream,” just for it to be crushed because he doesn’t have a paper that says he is permitted to stay in America.

No matter how the cards play out, one thing is certain: Andres will not get deported without my people putting up a fight, for he has every right to stay for his contributions to his community, his family, and to his islands.





















Works Cited

Associated PressPosted June 08, 2017June 8, 2017Updated June 8, 2017 5:47pm. “Hawaii Coffee Farmer Gets 30-day Reprieve from Deportation.” Honolulu Star-Advertiser. N.p., 08 June 2017. Web. 30 June 2017.

Blair, Allyson. “Smuggled into US as a Teen, Respected Kona Farmer Now Faces Deportation to Mexico.” Home – Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL. N.p., 01 June 2017. Web. 30 June 2017.

Kelleher/AP, Jennifer Sinco. “A ‘Pillar’ of Hawaii’s Coffee Industry Is Being Deported.” Grub Street. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2017.

Staff, Web. “Kona Coffee Farmer Granted 30-day Stay, Deportation Fight Still Not over.” KHON2. N.p., 09 June 2017. Web. 30 June 2017.

Williams, Pete. “Federal Judge Calls Trump Deportation Order of Hawaiian Coffee Farmer ‘Inhumane’.” NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 30 May 2017. Web. 30 June 2017.