My mom immigrated to the United States with two of her older brothers when she was 25 years old. She had to leave behind her whole life, all her friends and most of her family. It was quite the sacrifice but she wanted to do it because she knew that it would be worth it. Her family was struggling and this was a good way to make money to support her parents and younger siblings while also being able to carve out a life of her own.
My mom crossed the border illegally and it was a grueling process. They were blindfolded and put in the back of a van and driven through the desert. When they were close to the border they got out and walked across to another van where they were blindfolded again. She said that it was the scariest and hardest thing she had ever experienced but she was able to stay calm and push through because her two brothers were with her and her two other brothers who were already in the United States had used the same coyote.
Afterwards, she was living with her brothers in San Jose and trying to find a job. They found work easy since they were men and could do hard physical labor – not that she couldn’t – but in her mind at the time because of her traditional Mexican upbringing she thought those were “man jobs” and she wanted a “women job” like working in a hotel or in a restaurant.
She got a job at a sheet metal factory, she was happy with it but it was hard work and things were still not getting easier. One of the hardest things she dealt with was feeling alone and isolated since all her friends and family were back home. There would be nights where she would just cry because she knew she would not be able to see them since she couldn’t go back to Mexico without getting smuggled back into the United States.
She thought about going back a lot, but her paychecks made her stay and eventually she met my dad at their workplace and they got married. She never thought she was going to come here, get married and start a life, her plan was to earn money and send it home to build up a house. Instead she has a new family here.