As I sit and look at my future plans and projects I can’t stop reflecting on my past, the past that got me to where I am today. Turning on the news and seeing families in such distress at the border hurts and brings back memories. I can’t help but imagine how hard it would have been if I had crossed the border in the present time. In the news, people say, “Why cross the border?” or “Why would a father put his kids in such risk?” Others ask, “Is it worth it?” I look at myself, my mother, and my kids and I say, "Yes, it is worth it."
This year will be our family’s "28th birthdate," although I am much older than 28. We celebrate August 24th because that is when we arrived in Colorado after almost two months of trial. Was it worth it? Yes, it was. We left our town on a rainy mid-June day, on a bus traveling to el norte. One of my mother’s brothers traveled with us to Juarez, and then returned home. My father had asked us to come after my mother gave him an ultimatum: “O nos llevas o te bienes?” Two months doesn't seem like a lot, but I recall each day is as if it were an eternity.
I have three kids and they always want to know about how we crossed the border when they see news on immigration. I recall many incidents, like when in Juarez, a man with a blade wanted to hurt us and my petite mother defended us like a lion. Walking through the desert sand and burning sun with my mother, my older sister, my younger brother and my baby sister. Hiding in an old abandoned home with bats. Traveling in a car with more than 15 people fitted in. Walking through an area of sinking sand and almost losing my baby sister. Crossing the river and seeing my older sister come back from the water and feeling such a relief. Me, falling in the water and not knowing how to swim—thankfully my mother and my long hair got me out. Hiding in an alley while two gun-fighting groups were shooting—who knows why. Sitting quietly inside a trash can with a lot of people, making no noise so we didn’t get found by la migra. My kids are amazed and are happy they didn’t go through what we did, but fear they will be deported. “Mis hijos,” I tell them, "you are American, you were born in this country, you don’t have to worry." Yet they do.
I think about all of this and it brings tears to my eyes and a pain in my heart. That was a traumatic experience, but if you ask me, "Was it worth it?" I say "Yes."
One time my mother was arguing with an immigration officer because they wanted to put us in different vans to take us to be detained. Finally, another officer stepped in and kept us together. Is it worth it, to be at risk of being separated? Yes, it is worth taking the risk. I don’t know of a father or a mother who would not take the risk to give their family a better life, a secure home, and an opportunity to succeed. It is easy to say, “I would never,” but as we say, “Cae más pronto un hablador que un cojo” (a talker falls sooner than a man who limps).
Like me, there are many people here who crossed the border. People who are thankful for the opportunities they have, and love this country as we love our home country, and become part of a big family, become American citizens. I’ve had great experiences working, learning things, being educated. We risked all to get a better education and now I’ve earned my Masters of Library and Information Science degree. We risked everything to have a stable and secure home; my husband and I have paid off our mortgage. We risked all to have a better future; my husband started his own company while still working for another company, working seven days a week if need be, providing a better life for our kids and ourselves.
Although our journey was tough, I thank my parents for taking the risk and bringing us here.
To hear more stories about immigrant children and families, check out these books and films (including some for kids) that are available from the Denver Public Library. You can also access news on the family separation crisis through our news databases, free to library card holders. To learn about childhood trauma and the effects of family separation on young children, click here.
Plazas are an open community space where immigrants from all over the world connect with people, information, and resources, building Denver’s global community. Come to practice a language, prepare for citizenship, pursue your goals, and create your future. Whatever you’re doing, we can help! Please see our events calendar for more information.
Thank you so much for sharing such a powerful and emotional story. I have been in tears and my heart breaks further every time I watch the news. To see you and your family thrive inspires me every day. I am honored to know you as a colleague and as a friend.
Your heartfelt experiences will continue to inspire us!
What an inspiration. Thank you for sharing this. I am proud to work with you.
I have no words to describe what I feel. Thanks for sharing your story! I am also honored and proud to work next to you!!
Thank you so much for sharing this powerful journey of what it took for your family to become part of our community. It is so important for those of us who have never had to endure such hardship to bare witness through those who have. We are better and stronger because you are here. Thank you.
Thank you Alix, I look forward to working with you.