SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2002        Personal Memory Ethnographies


Looking For A Dream

 I had been living in Arizona for about one year without my family and I really missed them.  One day I finally decided to bring them here from Mexico so I sent them money so that they could come to Nogales, Mexico.  I was telling one of my friends my plan and he told me he knew some one that would bring them across the border for a fee.  I called the guy that was going to bring them and he explained in detail how he was planning on bringing them across.  The plan seemed easy and my family would not be in any danger.
 When I was seven, I remember my mom telling me that dad had sent money for us to join him in Arizona.  The letter he sent came in a pretty pink envelope that I kept.  It was the happiest moment of my life.  I was so happy because I was going to see him and be in a very different place.  He would always send us pictures of the places that he visited and I would imagine myself in the setting with him, my mom, and my brother.  I remember thinking that when we got to Arizona, somehow by magic we would be rich and we would be able to afford everything in the world.

 At the age of seven my mind wasnít capable of thinking how we were going to get there and if everything would turn out ok.  All I knew was that once school was over our family would be together again.  I donít remember being sad to leave my friends or the family that I had in Mexico.  I always thought that I could go back and visit them anytime that I wanted.  But all I would dream about was being with my dad in one of the pictures he had sent us.  The setting of the picture was so beautiful because it was in the snow and I had never been in the snow.  There were trees all around and at the corner of the picture by where the road was disappearing I could see an animal that to me looked like a very thin cow, but when I asked my mom she said it was a deer.

 It seemed to me that school was never going to be over and I only had one month left.  But the month seemed like years that were taking their sweet time.  My friends were sad because I was leaving.  I started to realize that I was getting sad and scared that in the new place I would not have friends.  I also didnít know how to speak English and no one would understand me.  But I put all of those thoughts all the way in the back of my mind and only thought about being with my dad and going to see the beautiful snow.

One month later, my family was in Nogales, Mexico ready to come to the United States.  Their bus wasnít due to arrive until later at night and in the time that I waited I got a room in a hotel that was near the bus station.

The day finally came when we had to leave and I was eager to get on the bus and go.  Our ride to Nogales to me seemed great even when we had to ride for about three days.

We arrived in Nogales at night and my dad was already there.  I hugged him as tightly as I could and didnít let go for a long time.  After a while we got our luggage and went to a hotel.

We all went to the hotel and put the children to bed.   I told my wife what was planned in order to get them across the border.  I also explained to her that I would have to go and meet them on the other side when they got across in the morning.  The reason that I had to go was that I am only a resident and if immigration found me with my family who were coming in illegally they would take my green card.

I slept for about three hours when my dad woke me up and said it was time to go.  I looked out the window and it was still very dark.  I didnít know exactly what time it was but I was still sleepy.  The weather was nice, it wasnít too hot.  Mom came in with a bag of food and we ate while we waited for our ride.

My mom, brother and I got into a car and my dad didnít come with us because he said he was going to meet us on the other side (on U.S territory).  I didnít understand why he didnít join us and why the person driving the car was nervous and always looking around.  We finally went on the road and I fell asleep.

On the other side of the border I got a hotel that was right on the street and I could see the border line and the road from where the car that held my family was going to come thru.  My heart sank when I saw the border patrol stop the car.

I woke up when the driver was saying something to my mom.  I didnít hear what he said but by the look on my momís face it had to be something bad.  The driver pulled to the side of the road and stopped the car.  A very tall man in a brown uniform carrying a gun came up to the driver and I didnít understand a word he said because he only spoke English.  Everything happened so fast and I realized that this man was not going to let us go and for that moment I was so scared that I would never get to see my dad again.

I was afraid as to what would happen to my family so I decided to go back to Nogales, Mexico and wait for them to come out of the Immigration office.  When they finally came out I met with them in a restaurant that was far from the Immigration office.  I was glad to see that they were alright; they got scared because they didnít know what to expect.  My wife decided she wanted to try crossing the border one more time.  She said ìwe traveled this far and Iím not going to give upî.

While we were talking a little boy came to our table, he was no more than 12 years old, and asked if we needed to get across.  He told us that he would be able to take my family across by simply walking thru the main entrance of the border line and all I had to do was to have a car ready on the other side next to the  little store.  He explained that he would take them to the store, they would have to pretend that they were shopping and when they were done they get out of the store, get in the car that would be waiting for them and drive away.

The plan sounded great but too easy, and this was only a little boy.  My wife convinced me to try it, that we had nothing to loose.  So we went ahead with the plan and I did exactly what he said.  To my surprise the plan worked like magic, the boy walked with them across the line and they went into the store, they were in there for about ten minutes.  When they came out he stayed inside, they got in the car and drove away.
I was thrilled when we finally made it across the border.  I could not believe how a little boy knew exactly what to do.  But that didnít matter anymore.  I was on my way to a new life.  On the ride I asked my mom about the tall man that had stopped the car in the morning.  She explained to me that he was La Migra and that he was only doing his job.  I didn't understand and I considered La Migra a wall that was trying to block the path to my journey.  It was 1987 when my family came to America.  I now realize how lucky we were to come in that year and that my dad was already established here.

In the 1990ís new laws were born, border line re-enforcement became greater.  This limited the easy access to this country that every immigrant dreams of getting to.  Many immigrants leave their country because of financial issues or like in the Middle East because of war.  But for the Mexican immigrant ìMONEYî is the key factor.  The Mexican economy is not stable and the government agents are corrupt, they keep more in their pockets and give the people leftovers.  The unemployment rate is high and to top it off everything is expensive.

The biggest challenge for most of these immigrants is not leaving their country, itís to get to the U.S and if they make it across, finding a place to stay and a job.  There are many ways of getting into the U.S but they are deadly.  Many men, women and children try crossing the desert and have died.  Otherís have tried crossing by getting on the cargo train, which is the worst method, because when they try to get on or off they donít make it, and they get trapped between the wheels.  Some die and other get parts of their bodies cut off.  They also use underground tunnels, cargo trucks and other methods of getting in.  They get help from people that they call Coyotes to get them in.  But the Coyotes charge high fees and sometimes they end up just taking the money and not helping them get across.

If they make it to the U.S it is not always pleasant unless they have family or friends that are willing to help.  When no one gives them a hand they struggle to get their life together.  Some become homeless and start to wander the streets.  They stand on the street hoping that some one will pick them up and take them to work.  Some of the landscaping companies pick them up and they donít pay them and if they do itís not worth the 10 hour of intense labor that they put in.  Itís sad to see them suffer knowing that they have suffered since the moment that they stepped out of their house back in their country.

ìThis land was Mexican once,
was Indian always
and is.
And will be againî

Gloria Anzaldua

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