“We were very protective. Nobody knew we were undocumented, not even our friends or neighbors. All four of us are undocumented.”
I’m a community lawyer, and people know that when they get to the end of the road they can find me. Rosa was at the end of the road, so she came and found me. I wish she would have come and found me sooner, because I don’t lose people. I’m not bragging, it’s just the truth. I’m originally from Tucson. I was adopted, and my mom is from Mexico. They came to the U.S. in the 1940s. I have three moms, really, but I don’t know my birth mom. One was a high school teacher here in Tucson. Both moms taught us to act, to help our community, which is what I try to do with my little contribution.
I don’t know anything about my birth parents. Not interested. Spanish was spoken at home and in the barrio I grew up in. Both of my moms were very independent, very self-assured, very accomplished. In those days they would not say the work they did was “social justice,” they would just say that it was the right thing to do. They were committed to living good lives and being good people.
We were very protective. Nobody knew we were undocumented, not even our friends or neighbors. All four of us are undocumented. I’m the only one that stays here, in this sanctuary, because I was detained and sent to Eloy. I was stopped by traffic police in September 2010 when I made a mistake while driving in a construction zone. The police officer asked me for my documents and started asking me questions. I couldn’t provide the documents and he noticed I had cleaning things in my car. He asked me where I was going, so I told him I was going to work. He told me I couldn’t work because I didn’t have a social security number and I wasn’t from the United States. My friend that was in the car with me asked the policeman to give me a ticket and let me go. The policeman said he was going to call Border Patrol, and he called them immediately.
Right now what I am going through is hard, but when I lived those days I would ask God, “Why it was happening with me? I have never been a bad person; why do I have to pay for something like this?” But all of us have to go through things for a reason, to get stronger. Life teaches us lessons for us to learn to solve. All of this has made me and my family stronger and more responsible.
I was at the Swan Prison for seven days and then I was sent to Eloy. Those sixty days were very sad. I wasn’t able to see my kids—I hadn’t seen them since that day I left the house. I didn’t know if I was ever going back to my house. Before that day, my family would always pray that nothing would happen to us. We were so afraid. We would never go out. On the weekends we would go to church and that’s it.
When we were single my husband and I would come to the United States, and we liked it. We would talk about living here. During our summer breaks from high school, and then in college, we would come here to work. One time we decided not to go back. I used to take care of kids back then and he was working in landscaping and painting. Then I started cleaning houses, and that’s when we decided to stay. We started saving money while staying at my aunt’s house. We went back to Mexico to get married and came back and rented an apartment.
With both of my children, I would stay in the U.S. for eight months of my pregnancy, then on the eighth month we’d go to Mexico to have our kids. We always wanted to do things the right way and show the government that we were not here to have kids and live off of government help. We wanted to demonstrate that we were working hard to have a better life, and, if one day there’s immigration reform, we can show that our kids were born in Mexico and that they were not born here. We had visas, so we went back to Mexico to have our children, stay four to five months, get them visas and come back to the United States. My visa expired a couple of years ago. My son still has his visa, but I don’t send my kids to Mexico anymore. Not since 2007 when SB 1070 happened. We had a visa back then but we were afraid they were not going to let us back in. Our lives are here, so we decided not to go anymore.
The four years that we have been here have been hard. It’s so hard not knowing what’s going to happen—going to courts, fighting, being made afraid by the stories people tell me. I was just waiting to be deported and the judge gave me an asylum form for me to fill out. I just wanted to leave the Eloy detention center, wanted to see my kids and husband because they never visited me because we were afraid since they are also undocumented. The next day they gave me the bail amount.
Seeing other people’s lives and stories I realized that I was doing good and that I was going to be OK. I don’t compare to people that spend months walking in the desert, people that get raped, that can’t walk anymore because their feet are destroyed from walking and the heat.
Before this happened to me I would always question God why it was so hard, why we were so lonely suffering. I was sad. This experience has changed me. I now know that we are not alone and now we are very united as a family. Now I understand life and that we are all the same.
My husband now tells me how much he has missed me and how hard it is to be a single dad taking care of everything. Now they value everything, and now I value them more and we are stronger.