Tag Archives: Immigrant

19 Apr

Dreams for a Brighter Future


     On the first day of Spring of the year 1992, I was born in the city of San Luis Potosi, S.L.P., Mexico.  In 1998, when I was only 6 years old my parents decided to come to the United States based on the belief that life here would be easier and greater opportunities to prosper would be offered.

     I can barely remember the trip to the U.S. When I try to remember, it all feels like a dream. My father was already in the U.S. at that time, while my mother, little brother, and I were still in Mexico. One day my mom told us that we were finally going to meet my dad in “Los Estados Unidos”.  I was so excited because I had not seen my dad in what felt like years, but in reality was only 6 months.

     Our long journey began later that day. We took a taxi to the bus station, and then from the bus station to a city near the border. There we met with two women who were waiting for us. My mom got in the trunk and my brother and I were placed in the back seat with one of the women. They kept telling me to lie about my name when we crossed the border. At the moment I didn’t know why, but then I realized it was because I was crossing the border using someone else’s documents. After several hours of waiting in line to cross, it finally came to be our time to pass. The women told my mom to stop making any noise because we are about to cross and they reminded me of my new name I needed to tell the officer if he asks me. Luckily the officer did not ask me anything and we made it across with no problems.

     After a few hours of driving, the women left us in another city where my father was waiting.  I was so relieved to be in my father’s arms again. Our new lives started in this new country thought to be the land of opportunities. At first we lived with my uncle for a few months, then finally my parents saved up enough money to get our own apartment. Later, I was enrolled in school. It was challenging at the beginning since I did not know the language. Fortunately, the school had just started giving bilingual classes so my mother enrolled me in those classes and it got a bit easier. I soon picked up the new language, and I became one of the top students in my class.

     Three years had passed when my dad was told that he could obtain his permit through his job and that he was able to submit applications for the entire family. His employer was happy to give him the news and immediately started looking for an attorney who could help him with his case. Unfortunately, the attorney that my dad’s employer found only spoke English so my dad had to communicate through the attorney’s assistant. We thought we had been blessed with this great opportunity for all four of us to become legal.  Everything seemed like it was going great! My parents got their first house and my brother and I were super excited that we finally had a backyard we could finally run around in. My parents had a job and my brother and I were taking advantage of the great education this country could offer.

     While our applications were still pending, in 2007 my parents received their biometrics appointments, later they received their work permit and they could finally go and obtain their own social. A year later I turned working age and I told my parents I wanted to start working in order to help them, so they told the attorney to go ahead and submit my application for the work permit.  I received my work permit and with that I got my own social. Life was great, and we were no longer afraid that we were going to be caught using someone else’s information.

     Now it was the year 2010, when we finally got our last appointment with immigration, where they were going to decide if we got approved for the residency or not. My father insisted that his attorney’s office to set up appointment and consult with him on what we need to say at this appointment and they denied us the appointment and just told us to be early and we can meet with the attorney then.

     On the day of the appointment we could not find the attorney because through all these years, my dad only met with him in person, just for a few minutes about three times. It was after an hour later that we finally met with him. Luckily we had been there earlier than our appointment time so we made in just in time. We asked the attorney once again what we needed to say and he seemed like he had no idea about our case, he just told us just answer their questions truthfully.  So we went in and we answered the questions truthfully.  On one of the questions my dad was answering I saw the attorney just slam his folder and sighed. I knew at that moment my dad had answered incorrectly and things were about to take a turn for the worst. At the end the attorney told us the bad news. “You are going to face deportation!!” We were in shock!

     We kept asking him “Why?!” “What did we do?” He simply told us that if my dad had told him the truth from the beginning he would have never taken our case because we did not qualify. What the attorney originally failed to obtain from my dad was that he entered the U.S. illegally twice, that he came one time stayed for a few months went back and returned illegally once again. My dad said he had confessed all of this to the assistant but for some odd reason, was lost in translation.

     On my final year of high school I faced deportation. My dreams of going to a university and becoming an Electrical Engineer with my friends vanished. My parents were talking about returning to Mexico because they did not want to hide and be afraid of the police or getting arrested.

     I didn’t want to go to Mexico. My life was here, I grew up here, in the land of opportunity… I even asked one of my best friends if she could hide me in her house so I would not have to leave my home. At the end my parents decided to stay because they had hope that this country would one day change all these unjust immigration laws. They believed that the US would give opportunities to those immigrants with great moral character who are trying to fulfill the American dream and become legal citizens.

     That day came on June 12, 2012 when DACA was established. Although this only benefited my brother and I, my parents were overjoyed that their children could now live without the fear of deportation and that they would have the opportunity to prosper. Despite DACA, I didn’t go back to school. I now have a good job as a Legal Assistant to a criminal attorney. I have a family and finally I am making plans to buy my house and raise my children in this country that has been hard on me, but at the same time given me the opportunity to to get a great education.  I now have hope that there can be an opportunity for my parents who are still living here with fear of being deported at any time.

17 Apr

The Shadow of an Immigrant

               I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco. I came to the United States when I was about 2 years old in 1995. I came here because my parents wanted to provide my brothers and I with a chance for a better life.
      My father was already in the US at the time, but my mom and two brothers lived in Mexico. He worked here and sent us money back home. Eventually, he made arrangements for us to become permanent residents. My mom brought us all over to the US as soon as she could.
      I was only about 2 at the time, so I didn’t have a reason per se. However, my family came over here because there was work here and better schools. I adjusted pretty well since I was so young. It was a lot more difficult for my mom than anyone else because she had to leave her entire family behind. My father’s mom and siblings came over here too so he seemed to be fine. The biggest hurdle for us was the language barrier. My oldest brother had to translate letters and important documents for my parents because he was the first one to learn English in school.
      Part of living as an immigrant is that you never have the guarantee of keeping your family together. Even being here legally, getting in legal problems can result in deportation. My father was an alcoholic and constantly struggled with trying to get sober. When you’re an immigrant, there’s not a lot of help you can get. He got arrested for driving while drunk more than once and eventually had his resident status revoked. Things got hard for my family once he was deported, but adversity only brought us closer together. My two brothers had to work while still in high school in order to support the family.
      I was fortunate to have my family provide the support they did. Even when I was old enough to work, my brothers still supported me and encouraged to focus on school rather than help them pay bills. Because of that I was able to be the first in my family to attend a University. I am now a Computer Science major and only a semester away from graduation.
      I just recently obtained citizenship. It was not particularly a difficult process since there was so much information available online. As for the interview part, many of the questions I was required to study were things learned in history class in elementary and high school. They give applicants a booklet with all the questions they are required to study for free. The booklet even comes with a CD that contains the audio version of the questions. There are also flash cards available online for studying. So that part wasn’t difficult at all for me.
      A minor challenge was that you don’t get a say in when you set up your appointments. After sending the required fee, forms and documents, you get a letter telling you that you have to be at a certain place at a certain time. You have an option to reschedule, but you still won’t get to pick the day or time. As a student, I work and go to school so keeping these appointments meant having to miss class. I can imagine others who work full time or don’t have a reliable form of transportation would have a hard time with this part of the process.

15 Apr

The Echoes of Many : A Story of a Mexican Immigrant


     I was born in San Luis Potosi, SLP Mexico. I came to the United States when I was 14 years old in 1978. Like many, I came here to help my family back home.
     I came here illegally. I swam across the river. It was horrible, because it was the first black ice that covered that night. I walked in the woods for 4 days and 4 nights. When I was thirsty, I would drink any source of water I would find, even if it were urine. I had nothing else to drink or eat. I had to walk during the night because that was the only time where no one could see us. I eventually made it to my destination where I would soon discover more hardship.
     I came from a big and poor family of 10 brothers and sisters. I was the third youngest out of all my brothers and sisters and the only one to come to the United States. I knew I had to come to the United States to help them out. I needed to help my father and mother to pay for the house and many other things back at home. I remember watching my mother wash our clothes on top of a rock because we didn’t have a washer, I couldn’t help but be frustrated seeing that and other things. My first goal was to buy my mother a washer and the second was to help my father with the family.
     When it was Christmas, I remember seeing my friends play with toys they got as gifts, while my family had nothing. When I got to the United States, my uncle gave me stamps to send $5 to my family, which back then equals to 3 pounds of eggs in SLP. I sent my family money every Christmas so that my mother could buy gifts for my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and even to buy a piñata so that she could invite the neighborhood kids over so they could have a sense of belonging. I didn’t want them to feel the way I felt as a kid to receive nothing on Christmas.
     How was it living here back then? It was hard. I came here during the worst season. It snowed a lot and I didn’t know anyone but my uncle. I didn’t know the language, I didn’t know where to go, what to do… but I told myself that if I’m here in the states I’m going to take advantage and work hard and give my family everything I couldn’t have. So, I learned the language by speaking to people because I didn’t have time to go to school, I had to work.
     I started working at a hotel washing dishes, but I only worked there for a month. I told myself I could do better so I looked at getting better positions. I moved up to housekeeping and then I told myself I could do something better and did maintenance and engineering. I then noticed that I could get better money as a banquet server so I automatically applied and worked at different hotels doing just that. It was really hard at first because of the language barrier. I remember my first task was to ask everyone if they wanted coffee and serve them. In doing this, I accidentally mistook one of my bosses as someone important and I was able to learn from that mistake. Sometimes, I had to sleep in the hotel laundry because I didn’t have any sort of transportation to make it on time the next day. It wasn’t exactly the best of times, but I knew it would all be worth it just to know that my family at home wasn’t suffering anymore.
     Inclusive, I was hit by yet another wall. When my parents passed away, I couldn’t visit their funeral or grave because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to come back. I took off work without notice because I just couldn’t handle the situation at hand. I got fired. It took me about 3 months to find another job. That’s when I started working as a cook in the grill. People around me kept telling me to apply to be manager because I had the diligence and skills to be one. However, in order to be manager, I knew they were going to ask for my documents. Everyone insisted and wanted to give me the position, but I was too afraid to take that step so I just told them I didn’t want it and give it to someone else. I knew I had to do something about my situation.
     Soon after that, I went to go see a lawyer and that lawyer told me to bring everything to see an immigration officer. When I brought everything he basically left me stranded with the immigration officer and left me $2000 less. It wasn’t until later that the lawyer I believed could solve my case was accused of robbing many other undocumented natives and making up lies in other cases. The second time I tried to get an interview with immigration I had a woman accuse me of fraud because everything the previous lawyer had been accused of was thought of being falsified on my paperwork. She made me sign paperwork stating that everything I had filled out prior to my interview was a lie. She threatened me and told me that if I didn’t sign the paperwork my family and I would have been deported. I lost all hope after this situation. What kept me going was having faith in god and knowing that everything would be okay.
     I eventually found a lawyer who believed my case could be resolved. He helped me obtain my permit and then my residency, but I sure had to suffer a lot before receiving either. I couldn’t apply to many jobs because I was “illegal” even if I knew I could do the job better than the next. I had to work as a cook, making little pay, but it was enough to survive. However, after I became legal, I started working at different places and started receiving better pay. Now, I’ve applied to be a citizen and have to wait 5 years to be able to obtain it.
     I’ve been working since I was 14… I’m now 50 and still working hard for my own kids and wife. It’s still hard because now I have my own payments to pay for by myself. The job market is hard due to so much competition. In order to keep up with my bills, I have to work many jobs. I tell my kids that if I leave anything behind it would be their education. It’s the best investment to leave them because everything else could be replaced. I know they’ll be prepared the rest of their life because they will have an education. Knowing that, working all these jobs doesn’t feel as bad.

09 Apr

Coming to the U.S. with NOTHING but Perseverance : A story of a Vietnamese Immigrant


     I was born and raised in Vietnam, specifically, Da Nang; one of the major port cities on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. I came to the United States August of 2009. I was 17 years old at the time and had just graduated from high school. I came here for a better future.
     It is more of a personal reason as to why I came. My relatives who live in the U.S. always looked down on my mom and grandma because they came from a very poor family. My mom is the greatest woman I know and the fact that they disrespected her so much really upset me. That’s probably the biggest motivation as to why I came to the United States. I wanted to prove a point and show my family that my mom is not small nor to be disrespected and make my mom proud.
     It’s tough living here. People think America is the land of opportunity and success. That is true, but you have to work hard to be able to obtain those opportunities exposed. Sometimes, I get frustrated and mad at those who have all these benefits, but take them for granted. Here I am working my ass off, yet my immigrant status is holding me back from being able to receive anything. I’m tired of hearing the same thing come out of many prospective openings: “No, you can’t apply for scholarships, unless you’re a citizen.” “You’re a very qualified candidate, but we cannot hire a person on visa due to our company policy.” Etc. I’ve heard those words come out of people’s mouths more times than I would have liked to have heard. I just smirk at them whenever I hear them.
     My family isn’t rich at all, so they definitely couldn’t afford my school in the States. However, it is because they believed in me and my dream to go to school here, my parents saved enough money for me to attend school for a year in exchange for me to find a job to support myself while living here. It is illegal for students on VISA to work in the U.S., so I worked under the table during my first year to pay for school. It was hard but I was motivated to keep my head up and succeed no matter the circumstance.
     I am trying really hard to obtain citizenship. For many international students, getting an H1B1 Visa (Employer Sponsorship) is the ultimate way to stay in the states, besides getting married. I got my first big girl job right after college and the employer is filing my H1B1 Visa. I’m pretty happy about that right now. I recently found out that H1B1 is a non-immigrant visa that qualifies for in-state tuition, which means that I am one step closer to Grad school! To be able to get a green card and eventually citizenship, I have to get my PhD, which would take me another 5-10 years. If my employer wants to sponsor my green card, I have to work in a super important filed such as engineering, research, etc., and have to work for them at 6-10 years before filing for a green card. It is a very lengthy process, but I feel that must do this not only for myself but my family back at home.

23 Feb

A Student from Mountain View College

“Moving here basically wasn’t up to me. I was a kid with 3 sisters and 2 brothers, my dad wanted to give us better opportunities so he decided to move here. He had problems back at home anyways so it was best that we came here anyways, to leave the past behind us.

I didn’t really know English when I first got here, so it was hard to communicate with people who didn’t understand Spanish for a while. The City was so different compared to that of the small town. I always run with this fear that someday I will be arrested for running a red light or driving without a license and being turned over to immigration. I feel like I’m limited to certain aspects of life that a regular citizen would have in their lives.

I guess the positive aspects that come out of being an immigrant is that I’ve learned to appreciate everything I have compared to the regular citizen. If I were granted citizenship I would grasp the opportunities it entails and better appreciate them better than many people that are citizens take for granted. I’ve also learned to take a different perspective on things. You learn not to limit your perspective from what YOU see but rather what drives people to do certain things. Being an outsider makes me appreciate the differences in people.

I’ve never truly had a difficult situation to face, at least not yet. However, adapting to this country is very hard. Even after taking classes from ESL teachers, it still took me about 4 – 5 years to truly be comfortable with my surroundings at school. The kids, in my opinion, were much more open about things than they were in Mexico. I stopped feeling like an outsider my freshman year in high school. Communication could be said to have been the hardest part to adapting and even then I really don’t feel like I had been completely adapted.

Overall, however, even living here illegally; there are much better opportunities here than living back in Mexico. It’s much tougher to make a good future out of the choices made over there. Moving here was the best choice for me, I can build a good future for myself if I wanted to here. If I don’t like it here, I could always go back and start my life back again in Mexico.

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have stayed in Mexico. Sometimes I feel like I would have been happier in Mexico simply because I would not really stand out due to my background, origin and legal status. Yes, I do miss things from Mexico. I miss the calming quiet eerie nights in my little town, my family left behind, the animals I could see on a regular basis, the rand my dad had, and a couple of my friends I don’t think I’ll ever see again…”

20 Feb

A Student from UT Austin

I was brought to the United States at the age of 1.  My parents thought it was best for the family financially to move here. My whole status didn’t start to affect me until middle school.  I was always told that because of my status I wouldn’t be able to pursue further in my studies later on in college.  It wasn’t until later on when a LULAC associate informed me otherwise.

Like me, people were and still are misinformed on whether or not they are going to be able to keep studying later on in life.  It’s weird to find someone else with the same situation as me.  However, when I do, I try my  best to give them the right information.  I am classified as an HP 1403 or SP1838 Student, which means that I would be treated as an international student, paying state tuition, and I was able to receive financial aid.  I help motivate people because I can relate to them in most cases.  I know how hard it is to open up to people about a serious situation such as your status.  I’m very hesitant to tell people about it.  I have friends who are really open about it.  My friend almost had a close call one day. and it’s reasons like this that terrify me.  It was hard for me to tell people of my status.  I always have to keep my guard out for people, it’s just so hard to trust anyone.  In fact, it wasn’t until 3 years ago that I finally told my best friend about my whole situation.  That’s just how hard it is for me to open up.

Even though I knew I would be able to further my education later on in life, I still tried to be the best I could be.  Because I’ve gone through so many difficulties, I feel like I’m able to withstand a lot more than other people.  I always try to keep a positive mindset.  I have to keep going because only God knows what’s in store for me.  If you want something you’re going to have to earn it, and that’s just what I’m trying to do.

Although I’m still not a citizen, I’m highly involved in many organizations. Right now what I’m highly hoping for is that the Dream Act goes through to help many students like me in the future. It’s very difficult for a student who’s about to graduate to go look for a job if he/she isn’t documented.  It’s hard enough that I’m a Latina and a minority woman.  To add that I’m an immigrant doesn’t exactly scream out opportunity for companies

20 Feb

Desta Seifu – A tutor from UT Dallas

I came to the United States when I was 8 from Belgium, Germany.  However, originally, I was born in Ethiopia.  My dad worked for the Ethiopian Government as a diplomat in Europe.  There was a communist overthrow of the government and most of his friends either got imprisoned or shot.  So he decided to start over in a new country, which was here in America-the land of opportunity.

I could say that the only thing that’s hard by living here is to determine what aspects of your own culture you keep and cherish and what parts you don’t.  For instance, kindness to everyone.  For a long part of my life in America, I trusted and was kind to everyone. However, it wasn’t until later that I found out that not everyone deserved my kindness and trust.  I was often taken advantage of by trying to emulate my own African Culture of being kind and trusting everyone.  I’ve still brought the discipline, integrity, and hard work of my culture with me still.  I’m still a kind and trusting person but I’m still more selective on who I can trust and be kind towards.

As an immigrant, I have been exposed to many cultures. As a result I’ve been given a broader insight as to how the world works as a whole.  As opposed to the narrow minded view point that most non-immigrants have in this country.

I was really to young to remember most of what happened. I do miss the fact that I don’t have any childhood friends that I’m able to communicate with still or even remember.  By moving I lost contact with all those I had known the first 8 years of my life.

20 Feb


Like Most families, my parents brought me to the U.S. or a better future. According to my mom’s family, I wouldn’t have had a very bright future back in Mexico.

It’s difficult to be an immigrant because I wasn’t able to do things many legal citizens can, like travel. In eight grade, my school planned a trip to Europe. I really wanted to go but my mom’s simple answer was “Perdoname hija, pero no se puede.” which in english translates to “I’m sorry sweet, but it’s not possible.” I used to think that it was because we didn’t have enough money. However, it was something else, it was because I wouldn’t be able to re-enter the country.

Another thing I found difficult was while everyone was getting their license, I had to sit aside. I wanted to be like all the other teenagers getting their ID/license, go in and out of the DMV, but I couldn’t. There were so many nights where I cried to my mom, blaming her for following a man that would later leave her and their two children.

The positive aspects that come out of coming to the United States? Well I have a new family. My parenets divoreced and I stayed with my mom who later remarried. Without the help of this man, who I now call my dad, my mom and I would have lived with so many limitations (more than what we already had.) He’s helped my mom with so much. We now have a house and my mom has her own business.

The United States also opened up my eyes. It didn’t hit me that I was an illegal immigrant until I entered high school. Before it didn’t bother me so much but then I started thinking about what I wanted to do after high school. I knew I wanted to continue studying but how? I only talked to my parents about it so I only had the information my mom could give me and according to her, it was possible to study as an immigrant!

Before senior year, my step-dad went to Mexico to renew his VISA but a couple days after he had been to the US embassy we got horrible news. They had denied his VISA. My mom told me that we might have to go back to Mexico, None of us wanted that. We had already made our lives there once. If we went to Mexico, it meant having to start all over again. That’s the main reason I didn’t do anything for college. I couldn’t apply or FAFSA because I didn’t have a SSN. I gave up, I mean I was going to leave anyways. My step-dad managed to come back before his VISA expired. During the time that he was laid of, my step-dad researched so many laws to get his VISA back. After almost half a year of not working and just researching, they finally gave him his VISA. But it was too late for me. College deadlines had passed.

I could have simply just waited another semester but I thought about it. What am I going to do after college? Who’s going to hire me? I’ll have a useless degree. What if I get stopped by the police? What if I get deported? All these negative thoughts led me to the decision to leave this country and go back to Mexico. This had to be the most difficult situation and decision I had ever had to encounter and make.

Moving to Texas was not my choice but my parents. They had the best intentions, to give me a better education and life. Right now living in Mexico, I miss my life in Texas. I’m in Mexico right now so that in the future I can go back to the way I used to live. I got tired of having to be careful all the time and I didn’t want to work like many illegal immigrants, with a stolen social. I don’t like doing things the wrong way.

While living in Texas, the only thing that I missed about Mexico was my family. Every winter and Summer Break my friends would tell me about the fun they had in Mexico. In 14 years, I never once saw my cousins. I didn’t have family reunions in Dall because we didn’t have family there. But now that I’m living in Mexico where I can see my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and my cousins whenever I want, I miss the most important people in my life. My parents, siblings, and friends. I have no idea when I will be able to see my mom or my friends and that’s what always makes me think, “Did I make the right choice?”
This is a struggle that took me by suprise but I will overcome it and next thing you know, I’ll be back in the States, working legally, and travelling all over the world. This is a really touchy subject, I get teary eyed every time I think about it. But I want people to know that there are a lot of kids who suffer from being immigrants. We want to study and get a career just like everyone else. It wasn’t our choice to live in a different country illegally. Our parents wanted a better future for us but weren’t well informed about the right way to do it and besides, the US government isn’t so nice when authorizing VISAS.

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