We Are Not Alone
It was when I was 8 years old that I started to realize things were not as easy as I had thought them to be. I was born in Mexico City, but lived most of my life in Aguascalientes, Mexico. A state best known for hosting La Feria De San Marcos, one of the biggest state fairs in the country held every day, all day for an entire month. They have carnival rides, games, a casino, the festival of traditional Mexican food as well as a festival of the best tequila in the country. People from all over the country come to celebrate during the month of April and beginning of May. As you can tell I come from a happy place, a place full of color, laughs, and people who like to have a good time.
My family always lived comfortably in Mexico, we did not have luxury but we had everything necessary to live. My mother, a Pedagogist owned her own pre-school, my siblings and I attended her school, called Rainbow. My mom’s meaning behind Rainbow is that “no matter what the situation might be, it is a promise and a reminder from God to humanity that as long as there is a Rainbow we are not alone.” I have kept that symbolism with me throughout my life especially during hard times. My father is a University graduate with a Major in Business Administration, he worked most of his life after school for Nissan Motor Co. Life was pretty good, unfortunately my country like most of Latin America countries are governed by corruption and has been going through an economic crisis for decades.
In Mexico, the employment rate keeps dropping, corporations hire the youngest for cheaper. That’s what happened in our family, by the time my dad had turned 42 he was “too old” for them. He had worked for a company for years and in a position where there was no more room to climb the corporate ladder. As younger people directly out of college started applying for the company and settling for a cheaper pay my Dad was one of the people they let go. It was a hard situation for the whole family, for a while we were surviving just from what my Mom could provide which just her by herself was not much. He then was able to get a job out of state in the gold mines of Durango, he was there for about 2 years traveling back and forth every 2 weeks to see us. When that project was over my Dad applied to numerous places back in our state, since he had no luck with that he then started his own business working with Pharmacies but it was not going the way he wanted it to. Little by little my parents started struggling more and although they never told us what our economic situation was we could tell they were always stressed out and worried about the money.
At age 9 I saw them make the hardest decision. My Dad needed to provide for us and since our country was not giving him the opportunity to do so, he along with my mom decided it was best to look for opportunities in the land of the American Dream. My mom’s half of the family lived here and that gave my dad courage to leave everything behind to be able to give us a better way of life. My Dad moved to Utah in September of 1999, it was heart breaking to have him away, especially in a place that we knew nothing about. By December we got our visas and were able to come visit him and spend the holidays with him, we fell in love with this place. We had never seen snow before so my siblings, Mom and I felt as if we were living in one of those Hollywood movies. As a tourist, to me everything looked so perfect! My dad had struggled finding a stable job in this country but when he finally did it, he was working 5 am to 4 pm shifts every day of the week trying to get as much money as he could for us.
When we had to go back to Mexico, mid-January of 2000 we were devastated. We were once again leaving my Dad but this time we did not know when we would be able to see him again. Traveling to the States from Mexico is not something you can do often or at all when you have a family of 6. By April of 2000 my parents decided we could no longer be separated, so they decided to immigrate permanently to the United States. For my siblings and I it was great news because we could be with our Dad again and in a beautiful place, for my mom it was as hard as it was for my dad. It meant leaving everything they loved and knew behind, their families, their home, her pre-school that she loved so much, their language, their people and their country. We arrived to Utah June 21, 2000 and have been in the country ever since. I will forever be grateful for the sacrifice they made, because they wanted to give us a better life-they put my siblings and I before themselves.
Life in this country has not been as easy as I thought it would be when we first moved here. Don’t get me wrong, we have had amazing opportunities and I cannot complain about ever not having the basic needs but we have also gone through the broken immigration system. My family had to separate in March 2012 with my brother having to move back to Mexico and us not being able to go back and forth to see him. We have had to struggle every day to get things, because contrary to what people believe, immigrants do not get anything just handed to them. I’ve had to work extra hard to get anything because since I am not a citizen, opportunities are just not there, we have to look for them and fight for the chance to get them. As a kid I did not realize how hard it would be to be an outsider, to be discriminated because at some point all immigrants have been. To be looked down at, stereotyped, and hurt but all that just gives me courage to keep trying. I believe that my parent’s sacrifice has to pay off, and whatever I can accomplish with hard work and perseverance makes that possible. I had to wait seven years after high school to enroll in college because I simply could not afford non-resident tuition and that was heart breaking for me since I always dreamt of going to College. I am an immigrant under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed me to get a work permit for 2 years and also attend school and pay resident tuition. I have huge dreams and plan to make them come true. Someday I will help anyone in my situation, because we don’t know how hard it is to be an immigrant until we have to live it.