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Children’s Books Missed These Immigrant Stories. So Students Wrote Them.

Next post: Encinal School adds science fair to family fun night. Got Tips? Got a tip about Menlo Park? All Rights Reserved. Cancel reply Leave a Comment. InMenlo Sponsors. Weather forecasts. Enter your email address:. You buy a house in the nearby beachside suburb of Revere.

You join the American Committee for Italian Migration, and actively support campaigns to change immigration law to remove the national origins quota system that made your experience so difficult. You live with your parents, who are tenant farmers on a plot belonging to your uncle, a merchant in the port city of Guangzhou. As the third son and illiterate, you have little chance of ever inheriting the farm or buying your own land.

You go to Guangzhou to find work, but after a few months in the dockyards, you hear about opportunities in the U. You will repay the company on a monthly basis until the price of the passage is cleared. Your uncle warns you about the tactics used by devious agents or chu chai tau swineherds. You travel to Hong Kong and then to San Francisco with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, spending more than a month at sea with poor nutrition and sanitation. When you disembark, you are checked by a health inspector and herded into a detention shed. Customs officers pat you down and rifle through your single bag, searching for opium or anything they could charge a duty on.

You gather your belongings and head into San Francisco. This is your first experience in a city where most people speak English. An employment agent with a sign in your native Cantonese offers you work near Sacramento, where landowners are employing laborers to drain swampy marshes and transform the delta into farmland. The work is backbreaking, but it is also familiar and you are surrounded by fellow Cantonese speakers. You have become friends with Li Jie, a fellow Cantonese immigrant who moved to California with his parents as a child.

Wang Jie is recruiting laborers. The growing Chinese community of San Francisco appeals to you, so you move back. You travel to Hong Kong and then on to San Francisco with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company; you spend more than a month at sea with poor nutrition and sanitation. Searching for opium or anything they could charge a duty on, customs officers pat you down and rifle through your single bag.

You are transported to Utah to work on the final stretch of the Transcontinental Railroad, where you join Chinese immigrant laborers from the West and mostly white immigrant laborers from the East. Many white workers see the Chinese as a threat, and violent incidents break out. After the tent where you eat and gamble is burned, you are sent to harvest cotton in Louisiana. Your debt takes longer to work off than you were led to believe: The company deducts pay for your shabby accommodations and paltry food allocation.

A Refugee's Long Journey

You have completed your three-year contract and are eager to leave the heat of the Southern plantations. A return to the farm work you did in China is appealing. With a sturdy livelihood, you are able to return home from time to time and help your parents pay off their debts. Soon thereafter, you journey alone to the U. You send for Ling and your infant son, Zhang Wei, who was born in your absence, to join you in California, but you underestimate the difficulty of gaining admission.

The Page Act of prohibits entry of any Chinese woman who might engage in prostitution. But the law is applied overzealously, and in practice it is extremely difficult for any Chinese women to immigrate. Despite your protests that they are your legitimate wife and son, Ling and Zhang Wei are denied entry and return to China.

You could attempt to have your family smuggled over the Canadian or Mexican border, but it is a dangerous and expensive journey. Or you could save money to travel back to China and accompany Ling and your son back. Perhaps if you travel together, you can persuade the authorities that Ling really is your wife. Canada does not yet have any restrictions on Chinese immigration, so they are admitted without difficulty. You meet them at a small inlet and head to Seattle. The company buys a property near the docks with a small apartment upstairs for your growing family. But as the economy worsens, white mobs, hostile toward foreign laborers who will work for lower wages, attempt to clear out the Chinese population.

Your wife and children are afraid to go outside. You want to return to San Francisco, but if you leave you will lose your position. When Washington attains statehood in , its constitution includes a statute that prevents those ineligible for citizenship from owning property. He shutters the office, and you return to San Francisco. You have finally saved enough money to travel back to China and pay for a return trip for your family of three, but in the meantime, the Chinese Exclusion Act is passed in , barring entry to all new Chinese laborers.

As a resident laborer, you could leave the U.

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Your separation from your family is now indefinite. You send a portion of your salary home to your wife and child, in addition to money you are still sending to your aging parents. You then hear that, in your absence, Ling has found another husband and has had more children. Do you continue to send money to your son Zhang Wei, whom you have never met and who may not even know that you are his father?

Or do you leave Zhang with his new stepfather and resign yourself to never meeting him? You settle in Chinatown with your growing family. Though you have lived in the U. You can never return to China to see your parents, and your freedom of movement and ability to own property are restricted. With the exception of Zhang Wei, your eldest son, your American-born children are all citizens. You decide that returning to agricultural work is the best way to support your family.

You start on a large commercial farm, but you are eventually able to lease some land and grow cabbage and potatoes.

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After the Alien Land Laws are introduced in , one of your American-born sons must take over the lease, but you are now 63 and happy to relinquish control. Although the law prevents you from becoming a U. Until the Immigration and Nationality Act of , however, China and other Asian countries were only granted a token number of visas for new immigrants. You continue to send money, encouraging your own family to make Zhang Wei aware of who you are and why you cannot return home.

You are able to write to each other, and you hope that there will be an opportunity for you to meet someday. You receive a visit from an American-born son of Chinese immigrants. He recently met with your son Zhang Wei, now in his mids, in Guangdong and arranged to provide him with a fraudulent U. Zhang Wei will only follow this illegal plan with your approval. Zhang Wei moves to San Francisco, later traveling to China and returning with a wife. You move in with the couple and are soon surrounded by grandchildren.

But due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, you never become a citizen. You reconcile yourself to a future without your family. The prospects of remarriage are extremely slim, as immigration regulations designed to reinforce a gender imbalance The Page Act of aimed to exclude Chinese women. It was motivated by fear of both interracial sexual relations and the creation of a settled Chinese community whose children who would be citizens by virtue of having been born in the U.

The Chinese Exclusion Act made you permanently ineligible for citizenship, meaning you can never return to China to see your parents, and your ability to own property is restricted. Your family members live as tenant farmers in County Tipperary until the Great Famine of —49 leaves them destitute. When you are 13, they decide to emigrate to Boston.

Your father and mother travel first, with several of their eight children. Your mother and infant brother die during the journey to America. You stay behind in Ireland, living with an aunt and training to be a seamstress while saving money for the passage. Your brother and his family are also emigrating, but they live far away in Liverpool, England. You travel alone from Queenstown, County Cork — a difficult six-week journey in the dimly lit, cramped belly of a boat that had previously been used to transport livestock.

You land at Quebec and navigate the journey to Boston. You travel to Liverpool, where your brother lives. Traveling alone from southwest Ireland to England is intimidating for a young woman. Together with your brother and his wife and child, you make the six-week journey by boat. You land at the port of Boston.

You secure a live-in job in the house of the affluent Fairbanks family on Beacon Hill. The anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Know-Nothings are at the height of their power, and Henry Fairbanks and his sons start to support them. Your mistress is kind and can overrule her husband in the house, but the Fairbanks men are increasingly hostile and deny you leave to go to Mass on Sunday mornings.

A young Irish woman you know lives in Lowell, a short train journey away, and works a less-skilled job in a linen mill. She writes asking you to join her. Though your pay is lower in Lowell, you enjoy making friends and soon meet Louis, an immigrant from Bavaria. You settle in Chicago and have five children. Though happy at home, you feel out of place in the German community, so you start attending Mass in the Irish parish of St.

In , Louis becomes a citizen. As his wife, you are naturalized automatically. You take up employment with Eleanor. You lose Louis, but your prospects at the Boston home are excellent. You have a degree of independence that you would never experience as a wife and mother; you remain close to your family, and you are better able to support your younger siblings. You stick it out in Boston for better work prospects, despite the hostility of your employers. Your family is happy to have you nearby because times are tough: Your father and younger brother spend a lot of time away from home working on railroads, digging ditches, and doing other types of construction in New York City and beyond.

Your father and brother have not returned from their last job in a Virginia quarry. This leaves your sister Ellen, now 16, caring for your younger siblings. Should you leave the Fairbanks household and move back home to help or stay in your job so you can contribute?


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You and Ellen share the burden of maintaining the home, caring for the younger children so they do not have to work outside of the home as much as you do. You work in the same textile factory as Ellen, and take some piecework home at night. At 45, he is significantly older than you, but with his steady employment at a Cambridge drapers, he offers the chance for you to leave the drudgery of the textile factory behind.

You marry and move to an apartment large enough for your younger siblings as well. John acquires citizenship in — which means that you, automatically and unceremoniously, become a citizen too. After several months, your priest brings news from New Orleans. Your father succumbed to cholera while digging ditches the previous year. There is no news of Patrick. You leave your position, buy a house in the North End, and take in lodgers. Unmarried, you cannot claim citizenship through a husband. Eager to advance, you earn a full scholarship to study pediatric oncology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

A few weeks later, your father dies suddenly. Your mother wants you to go to Baltimore, but how can you leave her? On the other hand, you know your mother will need the money you can earn in the U. Securing a student visa is a complicated process: You assemble many requisite documents and travel six hours by bus to Accra for your interview at the U.

The F-1 visa you earn allows you to work only on campus, and you find that most of the jobs are already gone. You miss your mother terribly, but you love your work and you know how important it is to send money home. A nursing agency advertises that it can help you secure a nurse green card. There are other ways to come back to the U. But your salary is low, and with inadequate equipment and rolling blackouts, working in a hospital in Ghana is a far cry from nursing in the U. Other than the cost of postage to the U. You see a notice about an upcoming lottery for visas to emigrate to the U.

If you win, you can spend a few years working and saving; afterward, you can either return to Ghana and live well, or bring your mother to live with you in the U. You submit an application, but you hear nothing. In early , you again see advertisements for the visa lottery.

It seems like all of the young people you know are applying. Your uncle in Albany, New York, tells you there is no need to pay an agency — the application form is very basic. He has heard that the Ghanaian postal service has been tampering with applications and insists you send the application to him to mail.

Soon, you receive a letter announcing that you have won a diversity visa. You visit a local agency set up to guide visa lottery winners. They warn that there are twice as many winners as available visas. If your application is approved, you must move to the U. As a qualified nurse, you have other ways to move to the U. You submit your immigrant visa application, along with your high school diploma and a police certificate, and you manage to get an early appointment at the U.

Embassy in December. After your medical exam, some additional immunizations, and your interview, your visa is finally issued with an expiration date of June You arrive as a permanent resident with full work authorization, but you will have to pass an exam before you can practice. Near Albany, where your uncle lives, you find two job prospects.

The first is as a nursing assistant in a cancer treatment facility. It will be a step down from being a nurse, but the job comes with benefits. The other is as a live-in nanny for a wealthy family in Hudson. You sign a contract with an American nursing recruitment agency, which promises to secure you a permanent residency visa and the ability to work as a nurse. The entire process takes over a year and requires multiple trips to the U. Embassy, a rigorous medical exam, many vaccinations, and a seemingly interminable collection of certificates and transcripts.

You sign a contract with the recruiting agency. After you pass the exam that allows you to practice as a nurse in the U. You stay on to save money for when you naturalize and can apply for a permanent residency visa for your mother. Your time as a nursing assistant at the cancer treatment facility in Albany is not easy. You frequently clash with registered nurses less experienced than you, and you miss your mother terribly.

Finally, almost a year after you arrive, you pass the exam that allows you to practice as a licensed RN in the state of New York. You find a position at a large hospital in Albany, but you are eager to find a job in New York City. It is your dream job in your dream city, where you can plug into a thriving Ghanaian American community and feel connected to home again. Your new job has reignited your ambition for career progression. You meet Paul, a lawyer from Richmond, Virginia, and fall in love.

After several months, you travel to meet his parents. Paul fears that his father will have a racist reaction when he sees his white son with a black girlfriend. After dating Paul for over a year, you begin to talk about marriage. But Paul has barely spoken to his father since your disastrous visit, and you worry about how the conflict might affect your relationship. You also worry that marrying a non-Ghanaian will further distance you from your culture.

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Is your love strong enough to withstand these pressures? James proposes marriage so that you can be covered by his health insurance, but you doubt the relationship will work out. On the other hand, you worry that your mother, a fervent evangelical Christian, might reject you and your child if you remain unmarried.

Could you support yourself and your child as a single mother? You now have a beautiful daughter, named Awesi because she was born on a Sunday. James objected to giving her an African name, but you put your foot down. James wants you to stay home full time, but you want a career that will allow you to travel to Ghana as much as you can. You reach a compromise: You work part time as a nursing assistant in a cancer treatment facility and, in between caring for Awesi, you study for your nursing license exam. Then you get your exam results…. You know that James will not move, but your marriage has been loveless, and you want to live near a vibrant Ghanaian community.

You become a citizen in so that you can bring your mother to the U. You become an American citizen in Finally, six years after you left her behind in Ghana, your mother arrives to live with you and Awesi. You are the proud mother of a beautiful daughter, named Awesi because she was born on a Sunday. You want to work and save money until late in your pregnancy, but cannot stay on as a nanny after Awesi is born. You move near your uncle and take a job as a nursing assistant.

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Awesi grows up to love school and her friends, but it pains you that she knows so little about her heritage. Finally, almost a decade after you left her behind, your mother arrives to live with you, bringing a connection to your homeland. You have been happily married for nine years with a son, Kofi, a daughter, Awesi, and a job that you love in pediatric oncology.

You acquire citizenship soon after you marry, and immediately apply to bring your mother to live with you. You and your mother are reunited in , five years after you left her alone in Ghana. You focus all your energies on your career, and move to the Bronx after hearing about the thriving Ghanaian community there. Finally, seven years after you left her behind in Ghana, you are reunited with your mother at JFK Airport. You ask your parents for your Social Security card to bring to the Department of Motor Vehicles and your father reveals a secret: You have all been living in the U.

He has tried to adjust his status to permanent resident through his brother, now a citizen, but the waiting list for the Philippines is impossibly long. Some years ago, he bought you a fake Social Security card. After a long wait at the DMV, you hand over your documents. The person behind the counter tells you in a low voice that it was easy for her to spot a fake Social Security card. Not unkindly, she tells you to leave the DMV now and never try to use this card again. You throw yourself into high school and get great grades.

Your relationship with your parents has become difficult as your emotions flip from anger for putting you in this position to understanding why they made this choice. In your heart, you believe the U. At the beginning of your senior year, your favorite teacher, Ms. The guidance counselor, Mr. Wu, helped another undocumented student get into a Chicago-area college a few years ago.

She also tells you that some politicians want to introduce legislation to protect young undocumented people like you. This gives you hope that you might achieve legal status some day. You agree to talk to Mr.

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Wu tells you that you can enroll in college. The major barrier will be paying for it. As an undocumented immigrant, you cannot apply for state or federal financial aid. He tells you about a private scholarship program set up for high-achieving students who would be the first in their families to attend college.

You win a scholarship and are accepted into University of Illinois at Chicago for a pre-med degree program. At the end of your second year at UIC, your biology professor tells you about a summer volunteering program in rural Nicaragua. Since you moved to the U. She finds you a similar job for the summer. You decide to keep your head down and earn money.

Word comes from the Philippines that your Lola has died. You urge her to seek professional help, but she is too scared to give her information to a doctor. Another undocumented nanny tells you that doctor-patient confidentiality means that personal details cannot be shared with the government. Reassured, your mother seeks help. You realize that the fear of coming out of the shadows prevents many undocumented people from seeking medical help. You decide that improving access to healthcare for undocumented immigrants is something you want to pursue as a career. This will require going to college, so you go back and tell the truth to Ms.

She refers you to the guidance counselor, Mr. Wu, who helped another undocumented student get into college a few years ago. You contact Ms. Phillips and tell her your secret. The school guidance counselor, Mr. Phillips has given you hope. Your professor finds an alternative summer placement for you within the U. You graduate from UIC at the top of your class. But while some medical schools will accept you despite your status, the financial challenges are formidable. You hope for a change in the law before too long. You start to wonder if playing by the rules is the right way to navigate life when undocumented.

You want experience in healthcare and find a nonmedical position at a private cancer treatment facility. You graduate with good grades but little experience that might boost a medical school application. You still want to work in healthcare and find a nonmedical position at a private cancer treatment facility.

You hear that local Latino activists are planning a demonstration to protest an anti-immigrant bill that was approved in the House of Representatives last December. If it passes, your entire family will be classified as felons. Although apprehensive about taking part in a public protest, you attend the demonstration in Chicago in March. As marches and strikes by immigrant workers spread across the country, you throw yourself into the movement and help to organize a May Day boycott of schools and workplaces by immigrants.

Through your activism you meet Michael, a U. After just two months of dating, he suggests that you get married. It feels too soon to make such a serious commitment, but becoming a permanent resident would transform your life. You talk to an immigration attorney before getting married. You learn that because you entered the country legally on a B-2 tourist visa, you can apply to adjust your status. But the process will cost thousands of dollars, and your chances of success are low.

You tell Michael to be patient and delay the marriage. DACA is designed for people like you, who arrived under the age of 16 and before , graduated from high school, and have no serious criminal convictions. You are now protected from deportation, and you have authorization to work. Now that DACA has given you authorization to work, you return to your dream of practicing medicine. The school even has a program that provides interest-free loans if you spend your first four years after you qualify working in an underserved community. Your excellent grades and years of experience help you secure admission.

You begin your studies in September In your fourth year of medical school, Donald Trump wins the presidency after campaigning with a promise to repeal DACA. The next year, as you begin your residency, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces that the program will be rescinded, describing people like you as lawbreakers who threaten the safety and livelihoods of American citizens.

More worryingly, the authorities have all of your information. You have never felt more unwelcome in the country that has been your home. Your mother helps you find a job as a nanny, and you meet several other nannies who are also undocumented. You come to rely on each other for support and help navigating life as a person out of status. But you still want to pursue a career in healthcare. Imagining you might someday get a chance to legalize, you want to improve your position before then. You want to work in healthcare, and you spot a position as an orderly at a private cancer treatment facility.

Your nanny friends tell you that if you use the fake Social Security number your father gave you on your W-4 employment form, you are not very likely to get caught. You meet Christopher, an IT technician at Loyola University, and you work up the courage to tell him your secret. He is concerned but understanding, and after four years, you marry and apply for a green card. Because you entered the country legally on a B-2 tourist visa, you can adjust your status without leaving the U.

If you had entered illegally, you would have to return to your home country, which would probably result in a year ban from the U. Becoming a permanent resident will be expensive, but you can afford it because you and Christopher earn good salaries. He is understanding but concerned when you tell him your secret. After four years, you marry and apply for a green card. If you had crossed the border illegally, you would have had to return to your home country, probably resulting in a year ban.

Your nanny friends tell you that a number of nonprofit clinics in the city provide subsidized prenatal care for undocumented women. Crucially, the labor and birth are classified as a medical emergency and are covered by Medicaid. Your son, Adrian, is born in You recover quickly without need for further medical treatment. You wait several months and discuss your concerns about having a baby with your nanny friends.

They tell you that a number of nonprofit clinics in the city provide subsidized prenatal care for undocumented women. Your son, Adrian, is born one year later. DACA is designed for undocumented people like you, who arrived in the U. But you are apprehensive: This will mean registering with the authorities.

What if the government reverses DACA some day and deports those who registered? Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces that the program will be rescinded. In this new climate, your parents talk about returning to the Philippines, and your brother, also a DACA recipient, is terrified that a minor conviction for marijuana use in high school might be used as an excuse to deport him. The end of your journey.

While your decision not to apply for DACA means that you are still in the shadows, this shift in policy is terrifying. What will happen to your parents, your brother, and your own family? Terrified of what the future holds, you have never felt more unwelcome in the country that has been your home. You become a permanent resident in , then have to wait three years before you can begin your naturalization process.

Finally, you are sworn in as a U. Your parents attend the ceremony, looking forward to the day when they, as the parents of a citizen, can receive their green cards. Almost 25 years after you arrived in Chicago as a child, you feel you finally belong in the only country you ever considered home. You live in a small village outside Villanueva, the youngest of nine in a family barely making ends meet raising cattle.

For as long as you can remember, the male family members have gone north to work seasonally on the railroads and large farms in California. Someone tells you there are ways to work in the U. You travel miles by bus to the border near Laredo, Texas. Along with 12 others, you wait until dark and cross the border on a country road in the back of an open-topped truck. There is no sign of Border Patrol, and one of the men tells you that both your smugglers and the border guards have been paid by the farmer for whom you will be working.

The backbreaking work earns you 25 cents an hour, half as much as a bracero might make, but still a much better wage than you made at home. Wilson offers to keep you and the other undocumented workers on through the winter months and into the new planting season. You save enough to secure a bracero contract, pay your mordidas , and travel over 1, miles by bus to the border reception center at Ciudad Juarez.

You are interviewed, photographed, fingerprinted, and given a chest X-ray to check for tuberculosis. To get a new contract, you pay your mordidas and travel over 1, miles by bus to the border reception center at Ciudad Juarez. Your naked body, clothes, and canvas bag are fumigated. You earn good money and enjoy the camaraderie in the camp. But the terms of your contract are not being honored: You only earn 40 cents an hour, sleep on a broken cot in a shed with a canvas covering, and get scanty, poor-quality provisions. When your contract ends, some workers choose to stay on illegally, but you return home.

Since you last secured a bracero contract, the process has become more onerous. To secure approval, you have to travel over 1, miles to Chihuahua. While there are plenty of contracts, there are even more men hoping to secure one. Some wait at reception centers for up to 10 days before being seen. You know a smuggler in Zacatecas who will help get you across the border and find you work without a contract. Farm owner supervising braceros as they harvest sugar beets and toss them in the back of the truck.

You secure another bracero contract, harvesting sugar beets in Hidalgo County, Texas. This time, the violations of your contract are even worse. You are moved between farms frequently, and you are sometimes expected to sleep in a truck bed. One employer tricks your crew into signing blank receipts and you find he has paid you only 30 cents per hour, not the contracted You see little point in playing by these rules. At the end of your eight-week contract, you decide to stay in the U. The U. Border Patrol packs Mexican immigrants into trucks when transporting them to the border for deportation.

At 25 cents an hour, the pay is much lower than a bracero usually earns, and the food sometimes makes you sick. After a few hours just across the border, you are handed a new work card and an eight-week bracero contract. After your return, Agnew announces a change in how you will be paid. Rather than an hourly rate, all farmhands will be paid a piece rate. If you work hard, you should earn a similar wage, but older or less experienced laborers will lose out.

The workers discuss going on strike. It is a high-risk strategy: Agnew could easily dismiss the braceros and call immigration to pick up the undocumented. After striking and losing your contract with Agnew, you decide to head home. While there, you fall in love with Avila, whom you have known since childhood. Whether to marry is a hard decision: You must continue to work in the U.


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A wife and children would be another draw on your wages. Also, if you left Avila at home, you would miss her terribly, but the seasonal farm laborer circuit is a hard life for families. Your bracero contract is coming to an end. You had hoped that Agnew would apply for a contract renewal, but instead he wants you to overstay and work illegally for 40 cents an hour.

You are happily married with a son and another child on the way, but life in Mexico is a constant struggle. You decide that it is easier and faster to go to the U. You leave Avila and your children at home. Tired of the separation from your family, you find a smuggler who ferries them across the Rio Grande.

Chuck McHale, who owns the citrus farm where you work, offers Avila a position as a domestic. For a time, your situation seems ideal. Your children enroll in school and thrive. After a few years, you ask McHale for a raise. He refuses and warns that he will report your family if you persist. You must either put up with this or find a way to leave without getting caught. You try to forget Avila. You wade across the Rio Grande and find work on a grapefruit farm in Citrus City.

You meet Lupe, the American-born daughter of a local tradesman, who makes a comfortable living selling clothes, cigarettes, and bootleg alcohol to farm workers. Agnew reduces your hourly wage to 30 cents, so you move to Citrus City, where you have heard there are good jobs. There, you meet Lupe, the American-born daughter of a local tradesman, who makes a comfortable living selling clothes, cigarettes and bootleg alcohol to farm workers.

You are content in your marriage to Lupe, and you now have a daughter, Maria. But you still do not feel accepted or secure in Citrus City. What would happen to Lupe and Maria if you were deported? You move your family north, where you will feel safer until you can become a legal resident as the spouse of a citizen. After seven years have passed since your last entry to the U. Finally, in , you become a U. For several years, your family follows seasonal agricultural labor not just in Texas, but as far north as Ohio and Michigan.

You try to keep your children enrolled in local Catholic schools as you move, but your eldest son, now 12, becomes increasingly hard to manage. You hear that year-round work is available in a meat-processing factory in Houston. The pay will be low and the work mundane, but it might allow your family some stability as well as the safety of disappearing into a large city. You settle in Houston and learn that your eldest brother is now a citizen, living in Dallas with his American-born wife. Changes to immigration law mean that he can sponsor you to become a permanent resident.

Then you begin the expensive, lengthy naturalization process. In , you become a citizen and start the process of securing permanent residency for Avila and your children. In , the U. Now, immigrants who arrived illegally can apply for amnesty by admitting guilt, paying a fine and back taxes, and proving they are not guilty of serious crimes. There has been horrific violence across El Salvador since the military coup two years ago.

Military forces have been sweeping through rural areas killing people indiscriminately, including women and children. Now, Arturo fears he could be a target because he took some classes in Liberation Theology at the Universidad Centroamericana. The Jesuit university was home to scholars of this social justice movement and supported a negotiated settlement to the war. In , police killed six priests and two others. Two of his friends have been taken by the National Civil Police.

You must all flee now. You also bring a rosary that your mother gave you. You hide these possessions, along with a decent amount of cash, among the three of you.