Nicaraguan loves being U.S. citizen

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Alberto Flores says he's hears it all the time.

Alberto Flores with his daughter Jamilynn, 10, and son Kendrick, 7, at the apartment complex in North Augusta.  Chris Thelen/Staff
Chris Thelen/Staff
Alberto Flores with his daughter Jamilynn, 10, and son Kendrick, 7, at the apartment complex in North Augusta.

"Are you Mexican?"

Earlier this month, he got the question frequently while on one of his jobs at a North Augusta convenience store.

"They kept asking me what were my plans for Cinco de Mayo," Mr. Flores said with a chuckle.

"I have nothing against Mexicans," he said, "but I'm from Nicaragua."

He's also an American citizen - has been since 1987 when he came to this country as a teenager.

"I love it here because of the opportunities," he said. "This is a blessed nation and there is so much more than other countries have."

When Mr. Flores arrived in the United States 20 years ago, he said, he quickly realized why his father had moved the family from Central America.

"It was a volatile time in our country," he said. "That whole Iran-Contra thing was going on and my father felt it was best if he got us out safely."

The family initially settled in Miami, and Mr. Flores attended Miami-Dade Community College where he studied accounting and "brushed up" on his English. He also became an American citizen - a decision that sits well with his family.

"When we went to Guatemala, we saw so many poor people," said his daughter, Jamilynn, 11, a North Augusta Elementary School honor student. "They lived in cardboard boxes and begged for money."

Her mother, Karin, a native Guatemalan, agrees.

"It's awful," she said.

She and Mr. Flores left Miami for New York but moved to North Augusta in 1997. Two years later, a son, Kendrick, was born. He's in the first grade at North Augusta Elementary, and while his sister wants to be a school teacher, he says he wants to be a soldier.

Mr. Flores says he wants to stay here.

"I don't see us ever going back to Miami or New York," he said. "Here, I can get a better handle on our children. I teach them to respect everyone, regardless of age or race."

He's also teaching them the value of hard work. To boost the family economy, Mr. Flores works two jobs.

From 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., he's at the convenience store. He then drives to Aiken to start his 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift as a maintenance man at an Econo Lodge motel.

"It's really for our children," Mr. Flores said. "We want them to have a comfortable life. They will need more education than we have in order to make it in the future society."

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.

ALBERT FLORES

AGE: 37

FAMILY: Wife, Karin; children Jamilynn, 11; Kendrick, 7

OCCUPATION: Store clerk and hotel maintenance man

NATIVE COUNTRY: Nicaragua

QUOTE: "I love it here because of the opportunities. This is a blessed nation and there is so much more than other countries have."

Comments (11) Add comment
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 05/14/07 - 05:50 am
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This man is going to die

This man is going to die young. If he gets off work at 2 pm and has to
return to work at 11 pm for another 14 hour work day, he clearly isn't
taking care of his health. If Mr. Flores takes on a third job, I guess
President Bush would commend him as "uniquely American" like he did one
woman in Omaha, Nebraska on February 4, 2005: "That's fantasic!" gushed
Bush. "Get much sleep?". The Japanese have a word for working oneself
to death: Karoshi. What is telling is that Americans now work longer
hours than the Japanese. Nothing like dropping dead on the job in your
40's! Mr. Flores' family might consider putting "It's for our children"
on his gravestone. Nothing like putting guilt on one's children for one's
own workaholism. Anyone consider that better paying jobs are key to
a solid and more healthy middle class? I wonder if Mr. Flores has the
resources or the inclination to get online? I hope he reads this or
someone passes along my concern for his health to him. I wish him and
his family the best. My wife is also from Nicaragua and a naturalized
U.S. citizen.

bigdaddogg
0
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bigdaddogg 05/14/07 - 06:04 am
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Only you, Cain, could take a

Only you, Cain, could take a great inspirational story about a family trying to better themselves and turn it into a Bush-bashing opportunity. You really disgust me with your blind hatred of our President. Mr Flores is a credit both to himself and this country, and should be held up as a fine example of what this country is...a place where someone can still make their dreams come true. What Mr Flores is doing is the traditional route of past immigrants to our great nation..working at whatever it takes to make life better for his children and grandchildren. Congratulations Mr Flores, and may all your dreams come true!

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 05/14/07 - 06:44 am
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0
That's fine, bigbaddogg. I

That's fine, bigbaddogg. I just hope Mr. Flores lives long enough to
enjoy his grandchildren. Aren't an 8 hours work day and a living wage
part of the American Dream anymore? We should work to live not live to work.

Signal Always
3
Points
Signal Always 05/14/07 - 07:11 am
0
0
Since when is "The American

Since when is "The American Dream" something that's guaranteed by the Constitution? I worked full-time and went to school full time to get my degree. I guess, by your opinion, the government should have subsidied me? This was during the Clinton Admin. Oh, and Bigdadd, I completely concur. Some will complain for the sake of complaining. It's all the fault of the "Bush Family Evil Empire". Go sell crazy someplace else, John.

Carleton Duvall
6308
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Carleton Duvall 05/14/07 - 07:27 am
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Cain, i cannot believe you.

Cain, i cannot believe you. You are a small, twisted human.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 05/14/07 - 07:46 am
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Signal Always, The

Signal Always, The Constitution doesn't mention workplace safety but
occupational safety is a legitimate concern and there is federal
legislation that pertains to such. Do you want unregulated mines
because that is not in the Constitution? Not every concern of modern
society is addressed by strict Constitutional constructionism. Pay for
overtime work is not in the Constitution. Is overtime pay
unconstitutional? How about child labor? That isn't in the Constitution
either. There is more under heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your
philosophy, Signal Always.

bigdaddogg
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bigdaddogg 05/14/07 - 09:56 am
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And your answer to everything

And your answer to everything is more government, Cain? It's that attitude that has us in the mess we are now. Nobody ever said that life was fair, and the Constitution guarantees the "pursuit of happiness", not happiness itself. Why I'll bet that even your ancestors started at the bottom and worked their way up...or did they spring into this world with everything their little hearts could desire? While your observations about child labor and work safety are certainly valid, there is also no clause in the Constitution that guarantees the right to work....you have to get up off your rump for that. Historically, the first generation of immigrants to this country worked hard to make life better for their descendants. Mr Flores is following an honored tradition in this country and your efforts to belittle his accomplishments are despicable. You should be ashamed of yourself sir. There is also more under heaven and earth than your bitter hatred for President Bush.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 05/14/07 - 10:41 am
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Bigbaddogg wrote: "there is

Bigbaddogg wrote: "there is also no clause in the Constitution that guarantees the right to work." Certainly not in the Constitution, you strict constructionist freak, but the radical right loves to brag how Georgia (& I assume South Carolina) is a "right to work" state. I did not belittle Mr. Flores' accomplishments. I said that anyone who works 14 hours a day endangers their health. I am NOT ashamed of myself for pointing out the fact that the American middle class is shrinking - the rich get richer and the poor work two and three jobs. I wonder if Mr. Flores has healthcare insurance provided either by the convenience store where he works full time or by the motel where he works part time. How many immigrants per year can come to this country legally as Mr. Flores did? All those that come illegally and work just as hard for their families as Mr. Flores has, you disparage as illegal aliens who are breaking our laws and taking advantage of our system. I welcome immigration. We need more immigrants to bring this country's population up to 1 billion so we can compete with China and India. Bet you aren't for MORE Mr. Flores' coming to this country, bigdaddogg. Amnesty means progress!

jdcooper
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jdcooper 05/14/07 - 10:47 am
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We''re glad to have you Mr.

We''re glad to have you Mr. Flores! You immigrated exactly how you were supposed to-- legally! Thank You for that! As for the comment about "blind" hatred for Bush..... There's nothing blind about it.... there are way too many reasons to dislike him, none of which would be considered "blind"!!!!!!!!

bigdaddogg
0
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bigdaddogg 05/14/07 - 12:57 pm
0
0
Calm down Cain, you're going

Calm down Cain, you're going to have a stroke. While it is true I am a strict constructionist of the Constitution, in the mold of Jefferson and Madison, I am far from being a member of the "radical right". I suggest you read the Federalist Papers if you would like to clarify the ideas upon which our country was founded.

I also never said anything about illegal aliens, although I do oppose anyone entering this country illegally. I am all for legal immigration...this country would not be what is is without a healthy flow of immigrants. But think about your argument....1 Billion people to compete with China and India? This would be "progress?" How exactly would that make working conditions, salaries, and the insurance system better? China and India compete by having lower wages rather than higher. And before you get on your high horse about "sweat shops" and "child labor", do some research....the wages paid in these countries are comparable to those paid in the US at the beginning of industrialization. Compared to salaries here, they are low...in those countries they are not.

BTW,,,,when you resort to name-calling, you're losing the argument.

bigdaddogg
0
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bigdaddogg 05/14/07 - 01:04 pm
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jdcooper.....I never said

jdcooper.....I never said there were no reasons to dislike Bush. There are many things he does and does not do that I disagree with. My comment was that Cain has such an unreasoning hatred for the man, however, that he can take a perfectly wonderful story about Mr Flores and his accomplishments and make a cheap political statement about it. This demeans Mr Flores and those like him who are doing their best to make a good life in this country. No where in the story did I read anything about Mr Flores whining about his life, the hours he works, or how President Bush is ruining his life. Mr Flores stated that he felt this was a wonderful country and he is working so hard to make a better life for his children.

I read the comments on here regularly, but I don't often comment on them. I usually laugh when I read Cain's comments, but his hateful comments about an uplifting story that should be an inspiration to us all caused me to reply. I just couldn't let this one pass.

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