One cold morning of December 1993, my two siblings and I embarked in a journey that would forever change our life. I remember my Grandfather walking with us from our home in our small town to the bus central station. We knew that we were heading out to “al norte” as it is commonly known in my town. As the bus drove through the middle of the town leaving behind one of the last homes on the outskirts of the town I remember looking outside the bus window with tears in my eyes.
We arrived at the city of Guadalajara Jalisco; we immediately went to the international airport and flew to Tijuana In a northern state of Mexico. On arrival we took a cab to a hotel where we were met by two strange men. They told us that they would help us get across the border they took us to a restaurant to get something to eat, they explained the process and how it would work. They gave the three of us identifications with names and pictures of strangers. They asked us to memorize their names and birthdays in case we had to show them. We were told that we would be separated and that each one of us would be a passenger in a car. We drove across the border the officer signaled us to drive on, we were not stopped or questioned by anyone. After crossing the border I was taken to a fast food restaurant where my 13 year old brother and my 15 year old sister waited for us, I was only 9 at the time. My older Brother picked us up at the restaurant, and we went on a long drive from a border town all the way North to the Bay Area.
My whole family awaited our arrival, my dad, mom and all my other siblings. At that time we were all undocumented immigrants, my dad had worked as a handyman in the states for many years, my older brothers and sisters were also employed in various jobs.
I remember been enrolled in the 5th grade, and moving on to middle school, it was hard in the beginning since I did not know the language or the culture, but with time and effort I became more used to this new land. I graduated middle school and moved on to High school, I started working since the age of 15 and I have never stopped. I would go to school day time and work night time and weekends. My first job was at a hair salon, cleaning and washing towels, answering the phones and working as a cashier, I did all expect cut people’s hair. I would even babysit the kids of the hairstylists at our job place every now and then. I worked there for about a year and I later changed jobs, I moved on to a clothing store from there to a call center environment answering calls of customers who would purchase travel clothing and items, I worked at call centers for Delta Dental, EdFund Healthy Families, and for the last 6 years I have been working for a non-profit company that provides affordable housing.
You might wonder what documentation I provided to my employers; well as it turns out many years ago people that had family members abroad and where claiming them on their tax returns could apply for a social security card. My original card states “not valid for employment” someone in my family went to San Francisco and had someone from the streets make a “fake” card with my real name and real number, the only difference would be the removal of that phrase. As an identification card I have always provided a school I.D which is one of the forms accepted on the I-9 form. With time some of my siblings became citizens by marrying other citizens, others by a law that was in effect some time ago regarding employer sponsorships.
I remain an undocumented immigrant; I live in hope that one day the federal government will pass a law that will give me the opportunity to become “legal”. If the dream act had passed last year I would have qualified, I have always wanted to join our National Guard and maybe one day I will be able to serve our Country.