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.
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.
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.