‘We Came for Opportunity’: a Conversation With a 24-Year-Old Dominican Republic Immigrant

As a veteran political writer, I’ve often been moved to set aside the “hot,” often beaten-to-death — for various reasons — 24-hour news cycle fare of the day, and write about personal experiences I encounter that often make the case for conservatism far more effectively than the same old, same old.

Such was the case in April when I wrote a piece titled, I Love Living in America: a Discussion With a Lyft Driver From Nigeria, in which I shared the story of “Joseph,” who at age 20, along with his then 17-year-old wife, immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in search of a better life for themselves and their soon-to-follow children. Joseph’s remarkable story continues to inspire those who read it.

Thursday morning, I met another “Joseph.”

Young “Jelson” and his mother were forced to wait behind in the Dominican Republic for eight years after Jelson’s father immigrated to America, secured meaningful employment, and began sending money home to Jelson’s mom as they waited to join him.

“He came to visit us once a year,” Jelson told me. “I cried every time my dad left us, but my mom always told me we would join him, one day, and our lives would change forever. That day finally came — and so did the beginning of Jelson’s improbable dream. Eight years later (this morning), Jelson picked me up for a 30-minute Uber trip. As was the case with “Joseph,” the rest of my day was made during that ride. Jelson was driving a brand new Tesla Model 3, which I soon learned was “only” his “work car.”

Like me, Jelson is an unabashed car guy. Unlike me, the 24-year-old Dominican immigrant is also the single father of a 5-year-old daughter. “I started young,” he said.

Jelson drives for Uber part-time while he continues to successfully build his dream business, LuXe Rides, a “premium and luxury cars” rental company. He explains on the company website:

As the main host of LuXe Rides, I am committed to providing you with outstanding service so your experience with any of our vehicles is unforgettable. With this in mind, do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or if in any way I can assist you in making the booking of your rental as easy as possible.

Did I mention that Jelson is a 24-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic? And why he’s here?

We came for opportunity. America is the greatest country in the world for opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you’re white, brown, or black, if you come here and work hard, you can accomplish anything.

And people who refuse to work hard for what they want? “I apologize for using this word,” he said, “but people who refuse to work are lazy.”

The more free things people are given, the more free things they want. They don’t have an incentive to work for anything.

As we talked, I shared with Jelson the results of several surveys of Hispanic voters, most notably the dramatic shift since 2018 away from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party. “That’s what happened to me,” he proudly said.

Incidentally, he told me — as most of us are aware — the legal Hispanic community doesn’t support open borders and illegal immigration.

They’re bad for the economy. I’m a numbers guy. Many employers know they don’t have papers and pay them half or less than they would have to pay legal workers. That takes away jobs from Americans and legal immigrants. That’s not right.

As I got out of Jelson’s car, he told me:

If you ever need a personal driver, please don’t hesitate to call me. I’ll pick you up in one of my ‘other’ cars and I’ll take you wherever you want to go, no charge. You have truly inspired me, sir.

24-year-old Jelson Romero inspired this old car guy far more than he realized, even though I told him exactly that.

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