There is a reason why my parents chose a one-way ticket to the United States when they left Brazil with 8 suitcases, my brother, and me.

For years, my parents viewed the United States from a distance as a land of opportunity, a free society where hard work could earn every family its own version of the American Dream. In 1986, my parents uprooted our lives to make certain that my brother and I lived a better quality of life than the generations preceding us.

It’s time to take a lesson from the people of Latin America, and fight to preserve our civil liberties before it’s too late. The United States as seen through the eyes of my parents is under assault.

- Ana Puig

Years later, as a mother of four, I hold that same commitment to preserve America’s exceptional freedom and opportunity for my own children. I watch in disgust as the scandals surrounding the IRS’s targeting of small-government groups and the Justice Department’s secret confiscation of reporters’ phone records spit in the face of everything my parents risked to escape.

In a freedom-minded community of millions, I stand from a different vantage point than most. I am an immigrant, an American by choice. I remember what it’s like to live without the civil liberties and economic freedoms that native-born Americans nowadays accept as a guarantee.

My tenacious defense of civil liberties and economic freedom is one based in fear. I am astonished every day as I check the news and recognize an increasing number of parallels between the growing government in the United States and the federal takeovers of countries throughout Latin America.  

Totalitarian government takeovers in places like my home country of Brazil did not happen overnight. Central planners worked stealthily and gradually, taking control over education, media communication, entertainment and religion over the course of generations. Rather than using overt force, progressive government officials used propaganda and government handouts to win the hearts and minds of the struggling working class.  And when citizens spoke out to criticize the direction of their government, there was no First Amendment to protect them or their families.

In the United States, words like “tyranny” and “communism” to warn against the dangers of big government are the butt of jokes among members of the progressive movement and the media alike. But I’ve seen this creeping trend towards central planning before, and there is nothing funny about it.

Take a look at our nation’s state of play from a 30,000 foot view: The progressive economists in the Obama Administration have exploited economic hardship to fuel cultural resentment toward the systems of capitalism and limited government. The federal government has infiltrated into our educational system, trading federal stimulus handouts in 2009 to states willing to adopt Common Core (a federally mandated school curriculum) in return.

Internet regulations such as CISPA threaten to share citizens’ private information with the federal government arbitrarily and without their consent. Class warfare ideology and rampant voter fraud pollute every election cycle, while politicians make hollow promises to the lower economic class that will never be kept.

Now, the IRS was caught abusing its power to isolate and intimidate about 500 small-government groups applying for tax-exempt status. The agency is under investigation by the Justice Department, which would be comforting except for the fact that the Justice Department is currently under its own fire for secretly seizing the phone records of Associated Press reporters.  

The fox is guarding the hen house. The corruption and abuses of unchecked federal power can no longer be ignored.

Even the usually outspoken advocate of all things big-government, Piers Morgan, lamented recently that he should have taken guests on his show with concerns of government misconduct more seriously. He shakily admitted:

“I’ve had some of the pro-gun lobbyists on here, saying to me ‘Well the reason we need to be armed is because of tyranny from our own government,’ and I’ve always laughed at them. I’ve always said, ‘Don’t be so ridiculous. Your own government won’t turn itself on you.’ But actually when you look at this, it’s nothing to do with guns, but actually, this is vaguely tyrannical behavior by the American government. What the IRS did is bordering on tyrannical behavior. I think what the Department of Justice has done, actually, to the AP, is bordering on tyrannical behavior.”

This is what big government looks like. It’s no joke, and it’s just the beginning.

It’s time to take a lesson from the people of Latin America, and fight to preserve our civil liberties before it’s too late. The United States as seen through the eyes of my parents is under assault.

We need to engage and educate our families, friends and neighbors about the Constitution and our civil rights. It will be “We the People” that preserve the freedoms that make America exceptional, because the government is not going to do it for us.

Ana Puig is a Campaign Coordinator for FreedomWorks, a fiscally conservative grassroots service center to 4 million activists nationwide. She was born in Brazil and currently resides in Pennsylvania, where she co-founded the Kitchen Table Patriots.

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino