Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been disrespecting Mexicans since he began his campaign in June 2015. He's called Mexicans rapists and criminals, called for the deportation of all undocumented immigrations, and even met with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto to throw fuel to the fire. 

But as the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, I know the Republican nominee's false claims do not define me, my family, or my friends.

I am proud to be of Mexican descent.    

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore/2.0

My father and paternal grandparents were Mexican immigrants who came to the United States more than 50 years ago for better opportunities, particularly a better education for their children. They’re not alone: The census found that 64% of the 55 million Latinos in the US are Mexican. However, my family, like many Mexican-American families, has not forgotten the customs of the country we originated from.

We can and should all be proud of our American citizenship and Mexican heritage, no matter what Trump says.

I grew up in the border city of El Paso, Texas, where I enjoyed all the opportunities America has to offer while also enjoying the beauty and richness of Mexico, just a few miles away. Although I wasn’t born in Mexico, growing up in El Paso made me appreciate being a Latina.

Sasha Monik Moreno and her grandmother
photo: Sasha Monik Moreno

Many of my family's traditions are rooted in Mexican culture, such as celebrating Día de los Muertos, going to the mercado, and partaking in posadas and quinceañeras. I loved the delicious food, the regional music, and the dancing. 

I also learned to speak Spanish — OK more like Spanglish — and enjoyed cooking traditional Mexican foods such as frijoles and pozole. I'm also proud to call myself an American because the country has been filled with many opportunities for my family, in areas like education, jobs, and home ownership. 

For example, more U.S. Latinos are enrolling in college and pursuing advanced careers, according to the Pew Research Center. I'm an attorney, and I understand my educational opportunities may not have been possible without my father and grandparents' sacrifice.

Sasha Monik Moreno
photo: Sasha Monik Moreno

I proudly sing "The Star Spangled Banner" and have the utmost respect for our veterans who have risked their lives for our freedoms. While our government, particularly Congress, may seem unproductive and chaotic, we live in a democratic country where we can voice our opinions and vote without fear of violence or persecution.

So Mr. Trump, I do not have to choose between being American or Mexican, even if you insist that I do. My friends and family are just a small testament to the value Mexican-Americans bring to America. Your hateful rhetoric does not make me feel ashamed of who I am and where my family comes from.

I am a proud Mexican-American and no one, especially you, will ever change that.