The story of Veronica Rodriguez and her immigration to the U.S. starts in Abatzingan, Mexico. Veronica described her childhood saying “it was kinda rough, we had many hard times.” She lived in a small house with her mother, father, three sisters and four brothers. Veronica came from generations of poverty-stricken families and told of how hard her father worked to provide for her family. Veronica’s father worked for a construction company and also worked as a mechanic; her mother had a learning disability which stopped her from providing for the family. Even with Veronica’s father working two jobs, it was still very hard. Veronica said, “Sometimes we have money for food sometimes we don’t.” Veronica goes on to talk about her education saying that her middle and high school life was good, “I was quiet and focused student,” and that it was very different from the U.S. That teachers for the disabled and slower academically weren’t an element of school. The school years were different, Veronica continues to recall, elementary school is six years, middle school is three years and high school also has only three years.
In middle school a huge hardship hits Veronica: her dad leaves. He picks up his stuff up and heads out the door. Veronica was devastated, her whole family devastated. It wasn’t just because of her love for her father that made her sad; the fact that her well-being and her family’s relied on her father providing for the family. Now her mother with eight kids and a learning disability had to find a way to take care of her children. Veronica remembers her mother started selling food outside her house, “My mom use to sell enchiladas, tacos, pozoles and tostadas. She set up a table and then she’d sell the food right there to make some money to support us.” During this hardship in middle school, Veronica moves alone to a city near by her hometown. She was sent by her aunt, because her aunt knew that Veronica had a lot of potential in school and that she had a lot of life skills to learn. But her family couldn’t afford the bus ticket over so her aunt payed for the ticket.
Veronica stayed with her relatives but didn’t seem to stay long, not because she got in trouble, but because of hardships with the families. With the relatives she lived with when she first moved, the husband passed away and they couldn’t afford the house anymore. Veronica then moved to her cousin’s house but her cousin got in an argument with her husband and they separated. Veronica then had to go to her aunt’s house but later her aunt died from diabetes. Veronica explains, “I was moving house to house and I have so many relatives in the city because it’s the town my grandpa and grandma met.” Veronica expressed her hardship with moving from family to family, “everybody was different, everyone has different way to treat me for me it was very, very hard.” After high school, Veronica went to a university in Mexico and starts her job at the university as a assistant for the laboratory. Veronica would set up the lab equipment before class and help clean up after class, sending all her money she got to her family. After her job in the laboratory, Veronica worked for a environmentalist company; she worked for the company for a bit before getting laid off. After getting laid off Veronica said to herself, I need to go to America.
“I had a mother to support, a grandma to support, my father wasn’t with us, my grandfather passed away I had to support my grandma and my mom and help my mom to support my siblings. I knew it was a country with lots of opportunities and I decided to try to go to America.” “I wanted to give a better life to my family,” Veronica continues, “my Granny in her 70’s was ironing clothes for the neighbors to make extra money.” Veronica at age 21, with little money, knew she would have to do it illegally and started her journey by jumping on a bus in her home town and going for three days and two nights with very few to none stops.
Veronica explains that everyone was sweaty, and that nobody had taken showers for days or let alone brushed their teeth. Veronica got off the bus and called a phone number given to her by one of her family members. A man arrived to pick Veronica and the other people on the bus up, and a man Veronica had met on the bus acted like her husband to protect her from possibly getting raped. That was common when dealing with the type of people that were helping them. They all had to wait one day in a very poor house with no floors and very poor beds. Veronica distinctly remembers the morning before they crossed the border, “the lady she give us eggs with bologna (baloney).” Veronica woke up and crossed the border by foot; she then is picked up by another man in a car and driven to Los Angeles. From there her uncle picked her up and drove her to his house.
Veronica now lived with her uncle, who had two kids, one five year old and one baby. The house was a rundown house with one bedroom and bathroom. Veronica had to share the house with her uncle, his wife, and their two kids, and they rented out the living room to two other guys. They also all had to share the same bathroom. Veronica says the worst part is she had to share a bed with the five year old and he would pee every night in his sleep. Veronica then worked as a waitress for a Mexican restaurant that her uncle owned. Veronica remembers one time when she was dealing with a customer who wanted his food to go, she couldn’t understand because of her lack of English and had to grab another staff member to help the man. Veronica explained it simply as very embarrassing, and she felt bad for the man. After paying off her uncle for illegally immigrating, Veronica moved out of her uncle’s house after staying there for a year. Veronica now is married with three kids and works as a staff member at Palo Alto High School in California. Veronica is very happy with the family she has made in America and is very appreciative of her life. She is extremely thankful for the opportunities that America has given her and her family and now lives in the U.S. legally and happily.
The story of Veronica Rodriguez was written and recorded by a student in Palo Alto.