By Maya B., Emily V., Aico T., & Yaretzi M.
She was covered in burns and scratches after rolling out of the speeding car, but the pain wasn’t as bad as knowing she had left her 1-year-old daughter and husband behind.
Angelica was born in the small town of Aljojuca, Puebla, Mexico. It was a very dry and dusty place. Her house was made of cement. It was one big room divided by curtains. The living room and dining room only had a couch and a small table where they would eat. Outside of her home, there was some land where her mom would plant seeds and she and her siblings would play. She was the only girl out of five kids. Her parents did not make enough money to buy enough food for all of them, so most days they would only eat salt tacos. On good days, they would eat beans. Her dad worked in the fields and her mom sold tortillas. With the money they made, they tried to pay for their children’s education. But, no matter how hard they worked, they were never quite able to make enough money, and Angelica only made it to 9th grade before dropping out. “Siempre mis padres trataban de mejorar un poco nuestra vida…siempre hubo enfermedades nunca había suficiente dinero para educar no… era bastante dinero.” (My parents always tried to improve our life a bit.. there were always challenges…there was never enough money to educate us… it was too much money).
After dropping out of school, Angelica got a job in making and selling tortillas. Around this time, her father left for America in search of opportunities. Three years passed before her father finally returned. Throughout those three years, she and her siblings worked in order to buy clothes and food. Her dad would send them the little amount of money he would make. Even with that, they were still in poverty. Angelica thought of America as an amazing place with several opportunities and a great place to start a family. All the people she saw coming back from America were always wearing nice clothes and would bring their children toys she could have never dreamed of having.
In time, Angelica got married and was pregnant with her first child. She lived with her mother-in-law, who was also in extreme poverty. At times, they didn’t make enough money to feed themselves or their new baby. Her daughter grew up and craved more, but Angelica was unable to provide for her. She would often have to drag her sobbing child out of the store because she couldn’t afford an apple. Her daughter never asked for candy or junk food, or toys, all the little girl wanted was a piece of fruit. This caused her immense pain. She soon came to the decision that she would work in America. Her husband begged her to stay, but she had already made up her mind. She would go to America and buy her daughter the apple she always wanted.
Angelica and her sister-in-law made a plan to go to the United States. Angelica wanted to support her family with the money she’d earn in America. Her sister-in-law wanted to unite with her husband who had moved to the U.S. before her. Angelica’s two brothers who had immigrated to the United States helped pay for coyotes, smugglers who would help them cross the border. The smugglers gave them a piece of advice: do not bring any items, this includes food, water, and clothes. The coyotes were not responsible for any of the items lost or damaged.
In March of 2000, Angelica and her sister-in-law left their homes in Aljojuca to go to the dream land, America. Angelica’s heart ached as she left her family behind. Angelica and her sister-in-law got into a white van that drove them to Mexicali. It was nighttime; the coyotes told her and her sister-in-law to hide in some bushes nearby. The two of them squatted behind the bushes trying to make as little sound as possible. They waited patiently until a bright light shone upon them. It was an immigration officer’s car. The officer saw Angelica hiding behind the bushes and immediately arrested her. But, the officer did not see her sister-in-law who was hiding nearby. When asked for her name and address, Angelica gave the immigration officers false information. At the station, she was given a sandwich and apple juice. After a while, she was released from the police station and she flagged down a taxi to take her to a hotel. She stayed at the hotel until the coyotes came and drove her to a house. That was Angelica’s first attempt. The next day, Angelica heard word that her sister-in-law had arrived in America safely. She was motivated and determined to get across the border and support her family from America. Hearing that her sister-in-law made it across reassured her that she could make it if she persisted. She continued her journey with the guidance of the coyotes on the same day. She attempted a second and third time but she still failed.
On Angelica’s fourth attempt, she succeeded. It was early in the morning when she began her last attempt. When she got to the border, the coyote was there to help her get over the tall fence. She climbed onto his shoulders and made her way up the fence. There was an empty immigration truck on the other side. The coyotes told her to hide at the back of the truck and wait for further instructions. Twenty minutes passed, then forty minutes, then an hour. She became anxious as she heard footsteps coming towards her. Two immigration officers got into the truck and the car started to move. Angelica panicked. “A lejos nomás oír un grito baja cuando puedas.” (From afar all I heard was, “Get off when you can!”) She rolled off of the moving truck. She felt a burning sensation as she desperately hid behind the parked cars along the road. She was in so much pain, she wanted to cry. When the area was clear, Angelica stood up and walked slowly towards a car. She looked into the car’s wing mirror and noticed all the burns and scratches she had obtained from her escape. She walked towards a Carl’s Jr., and looked through her pockets to find coins given to her from the smugglers. She inserted the coins into the payphone and dialed the coyotes’ number. The coyote picked Angelica up from Carl’s Jr.. They told her she was extremely lucky to have made it. The driver was able to successfully drop Angelica in front of her brothers’ apartment building. Angelica had made it to America.
She was finally here. Relieved, she walked into her brothers’ home. It was a crowded, one room apartment she shared with her two brothers; it was the first home she had in this new world. Having to adjust to the weather, food, culture, and language was extremely difficult, but the biggest hardship was language. “Era muy difícil hablar inglés. All we want to do is come here to work.”
After a few moves, she landed a job and a home. She became a live-in helper for a nice, supportive family; they gave her food and shelter and were empathetic about her situation. The little money she made was enough to both support herself and send some back to Mexico for her family. She was extremely thankful for this family and continued to work for them for a few years.
Eventually, Angelica’s husband finally came to America to stay with her; however, they had to leave their now 2-year-old daughter in Mexico. This pained them, but did not discourage them. They both continued to work hard. After five years, Angelica and her husband had another child. America was their home now. They eventually brought their now 6-year-old daughter to America. Finally reunited, the Garcia family was complete and ready to live new lives in America.
It is now 2019, Angelica is a 42-year-old woman and a mother of three girls and one boy. She often thinks about what’s happening with immigrants in the United States. She listens carefully to what is happening in our government. “Pienso directamente que siempre nos está afectando.” (I believe that politics are always directly affecting us. Especially being an immigrant. Politics have a greater impact on me, for I have a daughter that’s only supported by DACA. We know that we have committed a crime and have broken laws but all we want to do is work and reunite with our family.) She is constantly reminded that she could be deported with her oldest daughter and husband back to Mexico, leaving the rest of her family behind.
As an undocumented immigrant from the poor town of Aljojuca, she often feels homesick. Although she desires to spend time with the rest of her family back in Mexico, she fears that she will not be able to come back to her other family in the United States. It’s an endless battle of desire. As much as she wants to visit Mexico, she doesn’t want to risk losing all that she sacrificed for, being able to raise her family in America.