By Abel Rangel
At the age of 13, Gloria fled her home because her father’s life was being threatened because of gang rivals.
“We also didn’t go outside of our town where we lived because we thought we could get deported back to Mexico, where my father would most likely be killed. We were scared,” she explained.
The people interviewed for the purpose of this article, including Gloria, are relatives of mine. They asked to keep their name anonymous; therefore, their names have been changed. Her story reflects what some immigrants have gone through in their life; like her, many people have decided to flee their home and go live in new countries such as the United States.
Immigrants from all over the world are coming to the United States because of job opportunities and the chance to live better lives. However, there are some people that have no other option, so they come to the United States undocumented. If people figure out that this person is an immigrant, there could be mixed results. Some people could be supportive of them, but some people might call immigration to take them away.
Immigration is starting to become a bigger discussion today in our current political climate. Everything we see on the news might be showing us some politicians who believe that all undocumented immigrants are coming into the United States just to commit crimes, kill people, distribute drugs, etc. But a majority of the time, this is just false hysteria.
A majority of undocumented immigrants come here in order to have a better life than what they previously had, and they come here to find jobs. For example, the caravan coming to the United States is being shown by the media as people coming to the country to invade and kill us all. In reality, they’re coming here for a better life and for jobs. But sadly, when these people come to the border to seek asylum, the government reacts with excessive force, like tear gas.
The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, is very vocal about his opinion on undocumented immigrants, believing that a majority of undocumented immigrants are here to cause trouble. As a result of his presidency, Trump has attempted to make immigrating to the United States difficult; he attempts to make the lives of undocumented immigrants who live in the United States difficult; and he said that he will deport every single undocumented immigrant. That brings up a point: What struggles do undocumented immigrants face every day?
Pedro immigrated to the United States in 1993 because he was fed up with his life in Mexico. When Pedro was first thinking about immigrating, he saw that his brother was also going to the United States; so, Pedro decided to tag along with his brother.
But the thing was, Pedro and his brother were both from Mexico, so they had no family in America. Since they had no family in the country, they couldn’t go to the United States legally. Seen as the only option for them, Pedro and his brother looked for an opportunity to cross the border when nobody was looking. They found their opportunity and made their way through the United States undetected.
Today, Pedro still lives in the United States undocumented, but he now has two children and a wife, his oldest child being 23 years old and his youngest child being 14 years old. Pedro managed to convince his girlfriend to come with him to the United States, but she also came into the country undocumented.
But seeing how they came in 25 years ago, Pedro and his wife are constantly trying to gain their residency in the United States. The immigration process in the United States is starting to become increasingly difficult and time-consuming. The average time it takes to get your residency can take years.
Pedro explained, “I faced a lot of struggles; learning English for me was a difficult thing for me to do, but I had no option because if I wanted to become a U.S. citizen, I should at least learn the language here. My children also have to suffer because of my mistakes as well. They tell me they want to go to places like Disneyland or Universal Studios, but I have to tell them no because we might reach a checkpoint where people will ask us for our papers, then we would get deported.”
He added on, “I also miss my family. Sometimes they visit the U.S. and I go and see them, but my parents haven’t come to the U.S. in eight years because they’re getting really old at this point. I just hope to be able to see them one more time before the inevitable. I call them once a month just to check in on them. From what they’ve told me, they’re still healthy and I should be able to see them within one or two years.”
The final question he answered was, “Has anyone ever threatened to call immigration on you?” His response was, “Sadly, it has happened before. I remember when I lived in Arizona, I was being threatened by one of my old bosses saying that if I quit, they would call immigration on me. I had to flee Arizona and move somewhere far away from them for my own safety.”
Pedro isn’t the only one who has experienced those struggles. Juan and Gloria are siblings who immigrated to the United States undocumented. They were forced to leave because of gang violence, and their father was being threatened by gangs. They used all of the money they had saved to spend on a coyotaje. A coyotaje is when people in Mexico give their money to a “coyote” or a boss in order to smuggle them into the United States.
Juan and Gloria came to the United States in their early teens, which was hard for them since they understood no English. They said, “We wanted to go to so many places since we were in the U.S. now, but we couldn’t because we only spoke Spanish. Thankfully, we had some family in the town we moved into. They gave us a home for a year and we were very thankful for them. “
On top of that, their family was scared to go outside, fearing something could happen to them. “But, we also didn’t go outside of our town where we lived because we thought we could get deported back to Mexico, where my father would most likely be killed. We were scared. We didn’t know if we were going to get deported, or if the gang that threatened my father found us and killed him.”
Since their family was too scared to go outside, thinking something could happen to them, they stayed indoors for a lot of the day. “Instead of going outside, we stayed inside watching American T.V. to try and learn English from shows. While this wasn’t the best thing to do, we learned the common words spoken in English.”
Another problem for them and the family that let them live with them was that they were running out of food quickly because there were nearly 10 people that house, so they needed another way to get food. Gloria said, “My mother found a job that paid minimum wage, but my father didn’t work for the first year we lived in America because we feared for his life. The family members that let us live with them gave us some of their food as well, but it wasn’t enough for everyone living in the house. So, my mother had to find a minimum wage job to support us.”
The fear of being killed or deported stuck with them for a long time; but, after knowing they were safe in the United States, they started to calm down and be more involved with society. “Although we were starting to settle down, we were still scared, but not as much. Thankfully, we have grown out of that fear, and we are now seeking to get our U.S. citizenship. While our English still isn’t the best, it’s much better than what it used to be like.”
The process to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident takes an incredibly long time to go through. It can take years, but even after waiting for all of those years, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to get your citizenship or residency.
For people who go to the United States undocumented and who want to get their residency, one of the options is to wait until one of their children born in the country is 21 years old and unmarried. Why should it take that long? There are many things that can happen in the timespan of 21 years. The person waiting those 21 years to get their residency could die while in the United States, or they can get deported.
If those immigrants have never gotten in trouble with the law, and they’ve never been in trouble with the law back where they originally came from, why should they have to go through that much struggle?