Jun 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

In your own words: What first-gen means to you

Illustration of a speech bubble shaped like the number one


After posing the question to Axios Latino readers, we found respondents overwhelmingly believed that first-generation refers to the first who are U.S.-born. Here are a few of them:

I have always associated 1st gen with the first people in a family to be born in the U.S. I guess it can be kind of a grey area though with people who came to this country very young. For instance, one of my best friends was born in Cuba but was brought to the U.S. as an infant.  I imagine it's hard for him to think of himself as not 1st gen — though technically, by my definition, he wouldn't be.
— Lisa Garcia, nonprofit worker in Portland, Oregon
Children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents are the first generation that will live the full experience of life in a country that is not their parents' original home. They are the first generation full-on navigating culture, language and identity dynamics. The majority of us do very well on that end, mind you. Cheers.
— Roberto A. Cornelio, consultant firm owner
I've always believed I'm "first generation." I'm Texas born, my parents immigrated from Coahuila. Why the debate??
— Delia Singer, IT business owner in Austin, Texas
In my opinion, in order to be the first-generation in the U.S., you should have been born in the U.S. as this group shares collective experiences relative to being in the U.S. since birth. I see the term as referring to those that have lived an entire life in the U.S. vs. those that lived a portion of their lives in other countries.
— Daisy Espinoza, journalist, Los Angeles
My father, who immigrated from Honduras, always referred to his children as "first generation" because he believed that we were the first to have the opportunity to live the American dream starting at birth.  He was a very patriotic American citizen — he became a citizen while in the U.S. Marine Corps — and was a spirited believer in the unlimited opportunities available to Americans.
— Manuel Bonilla, Chief Advocacy Officer, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Alexandria, VA
My family is from Chile, and I centered my Hopkins college essay on being first-gen and got scholarships for it.
— Jossie Flor Sapunar, national communications director for CASA, Baltimore, Maryland

Subscribe for more Axios Latino in your inbox.

Read the full edition