I get up three days out of seven and head for RB Donuts….OK, four to five days out of seven. The RB in the name stands for Rancho Bernardo, which is the community where I live. RB donuts is run by a Cambodian couple, David and Jennifer. I do not know their last name even though I have frequented their donut shop for several years.  I have a typical relationship with this couple that I think most Americans have with the shop and store keepers they see and do business with several times a week. We get to know these folks superficially, yet there is a familiarity that makes the relationships seem deeper, maybe even a little bit like extended family. Conversations usually never cover serious matters yet there is a recognition and a mutual respect that feels good. There is a special comfort and stability that comes from these kinds of connections and seeing these people in our daily lives. I feel this way about David and Jennifer and always enjoy my trip to their shop for my donut and coffee.

The Cambodian Genocide occurred in Cambodia from 1975-1979. During this time nearly 2 million Cambodians were brutally killed by the Khmer Rouge communist government. When David and Jennifer were young teens they lived in a village in Cambodia.  One day the evil Khmer Rouge entered their village,routed everyone to a steep mountainside bordering Thailand, and ordered them to jump. The shooting began as the villagers scrambled to get away. Many died from being shot, or from their perilous falls, or both. These two kids, from different families, survived. Their parents and the rest of their families died. I do not know the details of their trek but they ended up in America, and eventually in San Diego, after a long journey through the political refugee system of the day.  They fell in love somewhere along their way and eventually married and had children. They have three grown children who have all graduated from University of California schools.

I feel a special connection to David and Jennifer knowing their background and how hard they have worked each and every day of their lives.  David says jokingly his donuts are “fat free”.  To me his donuts symbolize what is great about America. These two young people came here seeking safety, freedom, work, and community. They built a life and raised a family through hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Their three children have excelled academically in the best, most competitive, schools in America. These three, “first generation”, Americans are hard working, respectful, and smart.

Next time you are eating a donut think about David and Jennifer, two very humble, hard working, Americans. Better yet, if you come to San Diego, you can find RB Donuts in Rancho Bernardo, just up the 15 from downtown. Your journey there will reward you with the best donut you every ate…. yes better than Dunkin, better than Winchells, and even better than Krispy Cream.

But once you get there you will be taken way beyond the delicious donut….you will touch and feel the living presence of the American Dream, and you will know why so many millions of people from all over the world want desperately to come to America. Like David and Jennifer they are seeking safety, freedom, work, and community.

Lest you make a leap from this story and think I support we open our doors to the Middle East refugees, or to all who seek to come, you would be wrong. Refugees today need to go through a thorough vetting process. The refugees from Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere in the region, who have migrated into Europe have a clear track record of not assimilating, but rather isolating with their goal to  bring Sharia to their new homelands.  For Europe this has been devastating. The book, “While Europe Slept” predicted the destruction we see today which resulted from a “wide open door” immigration policy.  We need to follow our immigration laws and we need to embrace immigrants and refugees who will become Americans first, just like David and Jennifer are.



Michael Hawke