I should really write this story down. Who know if I will one day forget it, lose my mind or not get a chance to pass it on to my loved ones.
When people ask me about my past and I mentioned that I was born in Mexico but that I Immigrated to the USA as a child they are usually in awe. I don’t know if its because they just think those kind of things only happen I the movies. They always want to know what it was like to cross the border and to make it over to the US. They ask are you a citizen, Is it hard to get citizenship, what was it like to cross over?
Now I have many relatives who have either immigrated to the US recently or have in the past cross over illegally. Some of their stories im sure are a lot better then mine. Like the story about how my cousin Ricardo got caught 3 times while crossing over and each time he had to change his name because if they had any repeat offenders they usually had to go to jail. I forgot what my cousin’s name were but they probably where like Jose, Luis, Pablo or something along those lines. He had to cross the border around the age of 14 which means he was very well aware of his surroundings and will probably have very vivid memories of what he went through.
My experience was a little less chaotic you can say. I crossed over when I was at least 3-4 years old. Unless I verify the years and do the math with my family I know I was around that age because I was able to go to kindergarten here in the US and a child usually attends Kinder at the age of 5.
The very first memory I have of that night is being in the back of a car, for some reason I have in my head the image of a car like an old montecarlo or chevy with the big back seats brown in color. Why I don’t remember the moments before this particular memory, I don’t know. It could be because before that it was pretty uneventful and this memory I have now is a time in my life when I could have been very scared or somehow the feelings I had were so strong that they got ingrained in my mind.
My first thought is of these strange people telling me to go to sleep. I remember knowing that I was with my sisters Selene and Manuela. I don’t remember crying or anything just just feeling very tired sitting in the dark back seat and strange people telling us to go to sleep.
Im not sure if I have deciphered this over the years as I have grown up or if someone told me but I believe the reason they kept on telling us to go to sleep was that I crossed over with illegal birth certificates from other kids. Its my theory that at that time it was relatively easy to pass of a child as your own with fake birth certificates. So I think the strange people in the car were acting as my parents. A border agent, if he saw the child awake could potentially ask us our names to verify against the certificate or even see in our eyes the fear that we had because we were with strange people in the back of a car and its this why I think we were told to go to sleep.
After the vauge memory of the being in the car the next clearest one is of me being carried into a building. It had brown brick walls on the outside and some stairs leading ot the door. I think I must have passed out in the car and we had arrived to one of our destinations. I remember asking the person “Where is my mom” and them replying “don’t worry they are crossing in a helicopter” and that’s it. That answer for some reason consoled me and reassured me that my mom was indeed ok. I believed it and pictured her easily crossing over illegally in a helicopter, when in fact she was actually crossing the border like you hear about or see in the movies by running long distances in the desert. Luckily for us our immigration was not drastic and we were able to make it over safely which can not be said about many people. It is this experience and these two little memories that always ground me and reminded me of where I came from and helps me appreciate and respect people who have less then me.