It was 2009 and Osiris Hoil was out of work. As it did to so many Americans, the economic recession had hit him hard. Eager to find whatever work he could, Osiris was asked by his neighbor what he would do if he could do anything at all? Without hesitation, Osiris said that he would love to open a restaurant and cook meals the way his mother had done while he was growing up in Yucatan, Mexico.
Today, Osiris is the owner of one of the most successful taco franchises in Washington, D.C. On virtually any day during the lunch hour rush, the lines snake around his various restaurants serving up fresh, made-to-order, authentic Mexican tacos. To the hungry working professionals and blue-collar workers who’ve tasted his fare, the name alone — District Taco — is enough to fuel a craving.
Osiris’ story is not unique. This country is full of immigrants who arrive with virtually nothing and end up making it big. In fact, it’s why so many immigrants have come to this country for generations and why so many continue to make their way here. Leaving behind family, adapting to a new language and culture — these are no small tasks. But then, the American Dream is no small objective.
Immigrants in search of economic opportunity can go to plenty of places. But they know that the U.S. is exceptional, that the United States of America was built on the idea that anyone can go as far as their talents, dedication and determination can take them.
Unfortunately, the idea of working to achieve is coming under attack. Too many voices espouse embracing victimhood, that we need the government to help us to land the American Dream. The idea of hard work as the route to success is being sidetracked by government policies that encourage dependency.
This is not to say that there is no role for the federal government to play in providing basic necessities in certain instances. But the role of the government is not to provide for an equality of outcome; it is to provide an equality of opportunity. That is a mighty key difference.
In an interview, Osiris said that working hard to get what you wanted was something he was taught at an early age living in Mexico. “If I needed a toy, I had to work for it, or build it,” he said.
Ask yourself, did you or your parents or grandparents come to this country looking for a government handout, or rather to work hard to provide for your family and to have a chance at the American Dream?
As chronicled in the Washington Post, Osiris’ story is a terrific reminder that not only is it OK to dream big, it’s precisely what we should do — followed, of course, by taking action in this still great land of opportunity.
Israel is a Think Freely Latino contributing writer. You can follow him on Twitter: @IzzyOrtega.