Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

Each year people enter the United States to pursue the American dream. While most of our focus has been on those that choose to come to our country illegally, it is important to remember that there are those that play by the rules and come here to not only achieve the dream of financial success, but to make America their home and their country.

One such family lives right here in our community. They were determined to become citizens of our great nation and they made sure to dot every “i” and cross every “t” in the process because to them, American citizenship was far too valuable to risk.   On March 21, 2007, Kingwood welcomed their newest citizens of the United States - Tony, Cheryl, Ryan, and Laura Austin.

Cheryl and Tony grew up in Luanshya, a copper mining town in Zambia. The two met in 1968 at a Lions Club Gala Dance and were married in March 1970. A few years later, they had two children, Ryan and Lauren.

Tony had the opportunity to move his family to the United States because the company he worked for in South Africa did business here. Tony was interested in coming to the United States because he often traveled to Houston for business and had the opportunity to spend time in the suburbs.

Tony was awestruck by the freedom that American families enjoy as opposed to the situation his family encountered in South Africa with the deteriorating security system. Although they had a great house in a good area, they were imprisoned by the fear of robbery either at home or out on the streets. The opportunity to come to the United States presented them a chance to provide a better life for their children, and soon after arriving they realized they wanted to be Americans for generations to come.

The Austin family arrived in Houston in January 1998. They all settled in and again it became clearer how much Ryan and Lauren had been affected by the security situation of South Africa. They were continually amazed at the freedom they had here. The family obtained legal permanent resident status in May 2001. They then applied for citizenship in August 2006.

The Austin family is active in the community and each member is a valuable asset to our country. Cheryl has been with Continental Airlines since October 2000 and is now a Senior Recruiter. Tony is a Regional Sales Director with a national software training company. Ryan has his own business, GameForce, in Kingwood Town Center, and Lauren is a junior at the University of Houston Business School.

Although the family has had to make some adjustments, they know it is worth it because of everything they have gained by becoming American citizens. Citizenship carries responsibilities and the Austins are Americans in every sense of the word. Not only are they model citizens, they are incredibly patriotic and cherish the United States – and of course, Texas.

The United States was founded by immigrants from all over the world, all leaving behind their loyalty and allegiance of their native countries to become proud Americans. The American Dream is more than making money, it is about making our country’s diverse culture, tradition and patriotism part of your family, your way of life. Our country is a better nation because of Americans like the Austins. Welcome, the Austins – an American family.

That’s just the way it is.