Lately I have seen some posts about DACA and other immigration related news, which for some are not really interesting, but for some others, it means a life changing opportunity.
Now that I am back in Mexico, due to my own choice, I think how my life changed when I was taken to the USA at the age of 10. I didn’t moved there with a VISA or just woke up in the USA like if it was magic. I, along with my brother, when we were 10 and 12 took the journey with our mother.
I still remember we started walking in the middle of the dessert on September 19th at approximately 9 a.m. We walked for the following 16 hours, with just a one liter of water and some crackers. I remember seeing some dead bodies on the side of the road where we were walking, mom just said not to stare and keep walking.
There were a total of 12 people in our group, two of them were leaders and the rest of us just followed. I remember, later on we arrived at a bridge at 10 p.m. where we hid underneath for the next 3 hours, with no more water or food to eat. Suddenly we heard this whistle from a car that pulled over to the side of the road next to the bridge where we were hiding. The whistle was a signal for us to come out from under the bridge and to run to the van and just jump in.
Since I was the smallest, I couldn’t get inside of the van, so mom just pushed me inside of the vehicle. Once we were inside of the hollowed out van without seats, making it possible for more people to fit inside, we were told to keep our heads below the window level, we literally had to fit like matches inside a box, all crooked.
After driving for 3 hours, we were taken to this hotel, where we were given some sandwiches. We bathed and got ready to be put on a bus to L.A.
Once we arrived to L.A. we took a flight to Texas, where we were reunited with my dad and two other brothers, who I hadn’t seen for years. I only had vague memories of them since they left the country at an early age. We arrived at 3 a.m., so everything was dark. When the sun was rising, I remember walking to one of the windows of the house, looking outside and realizing that the USA was not like they portrayed it in the movies, not like Hollywood.
I went to talk to my parents and asked them if we could go back to Mexico, their answers was a simple ‘No’. I had to get used to my new life, new culture, language, habits, and friends. I had no more extended family, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. From that moment and the following years, it was only my brothers and parents and two of my dad’s cousins. That was all the family I had for the following 10 years.
Some people criticize immigrants for leaving their country, thinking that it was an easy journey or a choice made on their own. I invite you to not judge why immigrants move to a better country full of opportunities and with a lot of great people, or simply don’t judge people’s past, since they are the only ones who know how easy or hard it has been to make it through.
I think any parent would have done the same for their children or family, only if you were in the same condition as many in Mexico at the time my parents took me and my brothers to the U.S. Back then living in Mexico meant living with barely $30 USD a week for 12 hour shifts, with a high delinquency index, drug cartels, and a low chance of your children finishing the 8th grade if possible, among others adversities.
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As a son of immigrant parents, I am really grateful to them for giving me the chance to meet other people with a different culture, who embraced me and always treated me like a human, with kindness and respect.
Today, my most sincere support to all of those going after their dreams – Dreamers – and my most sincere thanks to those who have embracing people from other countries, people like you are what makes the USA a great country.
By Enrique De La Paz Telles, Riviera Nayarit