1. Compare and contrast your life in Mexico to your life here. What’s the same? What has changed?
“There is too much that is different, but I guess I could start off by saying that my livelihood is the biggest difference. Back in Mexico, I had to work for my most basic necessities, for example, if I wanted water, I needed to go on an hour hike in order to get buckets of water, compared to here, I work a wage job that enables me to go to my local supermarket and buy water that way. I guess you could say that the biggest thing that has changed is the manner and purpose for which I use my body to survive.”
“It’s funny, I went from riding a horse to driving a car. That being said, the biggest change you can make is just becoming adjusted to the new world around you. There was technology here that we did not have over there, things that I did not even know existed, it was truly a whole New World to become adjusted to and learn to become a part of.”
What was your primary motivation for leaving Mexico?
“Our life in Mexico was filled with poverty and strenuous work, and everyone had heard that America was the dreamland and that things were different there, so I wanted to get it for myself. I also figured that if I ever had kids, I would hate for them to grow up the way that I did.”
When you applied for your citizenship, I what was that process like?
“The process was not too difficult, but I think what made the overall experience overwhelming was the fact that your father did not wish for me to become a citizen. He wanted me to become solely dependent on him, but obviously I was not about to let that happen. I remember that there were very specific questions that were asked about American facts and morals and it definitely required a lot of memorization. There was definitely a lot of pressure, seeing as the more you failed, the more time it took to get your papers, but luckily for me I’ve always been good at memorization, so I was able to finally attain my citizenship. I’m definitely glad I had the support outside your father that I did because it is definitely a scary process when theres a chance you might go back.”
Back in Mexico, what was the biggest priority for your parents – for you to get an education, or for your to participate in labor?
“Back in Mexico, my parents wanted me to work every single day. I always wished to get an education for myself and to be involved in activities like dance or art, but my parents thought that it was stupid and forced me to drop out of school and just do labor at home instead. I am content with my life now, but if things were different, I definitely would’ve taken advantage of my education and become something prominent in society, perhaps a lawyer or something.”
If you were to think back to the hopes you had for yourself and your family coming here, would you be able to say that you got exactly what you wanted, or were you able to achieve more than your heart and mind thought possible?
“I would definitely say that I got exactly what I wanted. Obviously life did not work out the way I wanted it to in my personal life, but I am proud to say that I am a homeowner without that and that I am happy with my current circumstances where I am not struggling physically to eat or attain the things that we have.”
What are the best and worst aspects of living in the United States?
“The best aspect of living in the United States is the cultural values that we carry here. I would say that they are definitely very progressive and parallel to what I wanted as a little girl. But obviously you know that the Latino culture is very centered around machismo and can make women like myself feel that there is no brighter future for them ahead and that their purpose in life is to simply be a housewife with no greater aspiration. The worst aspects of living in the United States would definitely have to be the way that our government is centered around capitalism, because it truly is a rat race for anyone who is not wealthy.”
What was the journey to the United States like?
“My journey to the United States was terrifying and difficult and I required a lot of perseverance to be able to make it through. I went to jail and back about four times because I got caught during my journey to the border by immigration police, but I did not let that deter me, I just kept trying and going. But I definitely saw a lot of things during that journey that definitely made me grateful for my life and therefore made finally being able to get on US soil that much more satisfying.”
Do you feel there is some wisdom you can share to those who want to endure the same experience?
“I would say to not be afraid to make the extenuating sacrifices to achieve what you want. There was always going to be someone who won’t understand you and that’s perfectly fine as long as you understand yourself and what you want. And make sure that you are surrounded by people that you trust, it’s just making it through the hard part that’s difficult.”
Do you have any final thoughts or comments that you would like to share about your migration journey?
“Despite the fact that the United States has its flaws, I am eternally grateful to be able to live here and not have to face the circumstances that I faced back in Mexico.”
Author’s Note: After listening to my mom recall her experience in Mexico and compare it to her life here in the United States as well as her immigration journey, I definitely feel that I understood more about the experiences that people go through in order to attain better lives for themselves. Upon doing the interview, I realized how important it was to truly listen to people by just giving them your attention and silence as they go ahead and express themselves.
This interview and written narrative were done by Jessica Carrillo, a student in Global Studies and daughter of the immigrant.