Most every American has someone in their family who overcame their fears to come to America in search of a better life.
This is a story about “Flor” (her name has been anonymized to protect her identity). Flor’s story begins 3 years ago when she was just 14, living in Mexico with her mother, sister, and brother. Her older sister (23) and brother (19) had to quit school before high school to work so they could help with family expenses. High school is expensive in Mexico. About $100 a month in tuition plus books and uniforms which is much more than the average family can afford based on daily worker wages of $5. Flor’s mother was convinced she needed to bring her to the USA to give her a chance at an education and a better future. An uncle, already living in the USA, provided $6000 to pay a coyote to help Flor and her mother make the journey across the border.
Aware of the extreme danger, and fearful for their safety, Flor and her mother took a bus from their home near Mexico City to Juarez where they waited a week in a motel for the trip across the border. The coyote never showed and instead sent a 17-year-old to lead them on a treacherous journey through the mountains only to abandon them after having led them into the hands of the US Border Patrol. A 24 hour stay in a US detention facility and they were soon back in Juarez.
Out of funds, six weeks later, they tried again with yet another failed attempt at a border crossing. Flor and her mother debated another attempt, knowing that if they were caught again, they faced the risk of her mother being sent to jail in the US and Flor being sent back alone to a Mexican Children’s Center.
Flor pleaded with her mother to try again. A 3rd attempt was made one evening in October 2014. After a near-miss with immigration authorities who were searching a train, Flor and her mother were picked up by a car – only to be abandoned once again at a McDonald’s in El Paso. Another car eventually came and took them to Nebraska where they stayed with a nun for a few days until her Uncle in Denver came to pick them up.
Flor is now a high school senior with a 3.3 GPA. She loves shopping and hanging out with her friends, who are mostly exchange students from Japan, China, Mexico, and Honduras. She is very close with her mother as they’ve both been through so much to establish a new life in the USA. She and her mother volunteer at a local food bank and are active in the immigrant community. She loves riding out to the farms to help support the Migrant community. When not in school, volunteering, or doing the things teenagers do, she helps her uncle out on the farms. She also loves animals, especially dogs.
She dreams of a career in law enforcement and is interested in pursuing a criminal justice degree at a local community college next Fall. However, she knows, without documentation she cannot be employed in the USA or even join the US military (having already been rejected by a Navy recruiter). Even if Flor were eligible for DACA (she isn’t as she came to the USA after 2007), she wouldn’t apply for fear that, in the current political environment, the immigration authorities will track down her undocumented adult family members and deport them.
Filled with despair and hopelessness, she plans to return to Mexico after obtaining her degree and join the Mexican Marines knowing her future in the USA is limited due to her status. Her mother fears this decision knowing how much they gave up to give Flor this chance for prosperity.
Unfortunately, in our contemporary culture we often fail to encounter migrants as persons, and instead look at them as unknown others, if we even notice them at all. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious or fearful of them.
America was once the “Land of Opportunity” – for those seeking a better life for their families. Flor’s mother was very brave to risk everything to give her daughter an opportunity for a better future. Wouldn’t you do the same for your son or daughter? Please pray for “Flor”, her family, and all immigrants seeking a better life. Better yet, get involved, write or meet with your congressmen and senators. DEMAND that our legislators act to implement meaningful immigration reform and to provide DREAMERS with a viable path toward citizenship.
“I was a stranger immigrant and you welcomed me.” Jesus Matthew 25:35