My Immigration Story
Raul Ramos y Sanchez is an author and the creator of My Immigrant Report - a website that shares the powerful, frustrating, and often heartbreaking stories of immigration to the United States - in the words of the immigrants themselves. Many of those who write in are struggling; they are the undocumented children that grew up in the midwest and dreaming of college, the couples divided by deportation, and the families overworked to make their status official. And some of the stories are the successes of proud new Americans
The Cuban-born author grew up in Miami’s cultural kaleidoscope before becoming a long-time resident of the U.S. Midwest.
Below is a small selection of the stories from the site - reprinted with permission.
Statistics do not tell the story of immigration. People do. Since its inception, this nation has been continually infused with the energy of newcomers. Yet their assimilation has seldom been smooth. The challenges we face today are not new. Only the stories are.
West Palm Beach
I was born in Jalisco Mexico, where I lived with my parents and eleven siblings. At the age of 15, I started my remarkable journey coming to California in the United States. At one point I lived in the mountains. I then began working in the vegetable fields in California in order to bring, raise and help educate my siblings. I then got an opportunity to work as a dishwasher and night cleaner at a lodge in Pebble Beach. I worked hard and long hours on the graveyard shift so I could continue to go to school and learn English. I was quickly promoted to line cook and had the opportunity to cook for past President George H.W. Bush. I am currently a private chef, radio host, writer, journalist and TV and radio producer. I maintain a very busy life doing the things I love with a passion.
Growing up I didn’t understand what being from Mexico was all about. I didn’t think we were different from anyone else. Yeah we spoke Spanish at home, but at school it was all English. I didnt know I was illegal until I was 16 years old. I thought I had been born here. My mother only told me because I was graduating High School a year early and I was going to apply for college. It hurt me to know all my hard work was for nothing. I cannot get a license, ssn. Basically I can’t get nothing. I got caught driving without a license about 5 months ago. They took me to jail for three days. I thought they was going to deport me. But no instead I have a year to go back to Mexico. Which I know nothing about….. I don’t have anymore family down there. Everyone is here illegally. I don’t know what I’m going to do. All my life all I’ve known is here. Please continue to fight for us illegal immigrants. Everyone deserves a chance right?
San Diego CA
I was 3 1/2 years old when I came to this country from Mexico, but everything changed three weeks before we came here. My mom had been working at this really nice hotel for over three years and ended up meeting this American. They got married three or four month after they met and my brother, two sisters and me accepted him as our step-father. One day my step-father came to the house and said to my mother that “I would love to take you and the kids to the United States, so I can give you and the kids a better life.” We ended up taking a road trip to the United States. He took my mom, my brother and me. Our sisters would fly up later. We were on the road for almost 6 hours and it was in middle of the night. My step-father was driving with my mother on the passenger side and my brother behind my mother and me behind my step-father. My step-father ended up passing out and we slammed into the back of a semi. God was looking out for me and my step-father, but not so much for my mother and brother. My step dad ended up waking up from a coma two weeks later and the first thing he thought about was my mom and kids. He didn’t know what happened but his sister told him the whole story about how they ended up flying him to the USA and they took me back to my grandmother. As soon as he heard what happened he didn’t think twice. It took him a couple of days to find my grandmother’s house cause he’s only been there once but he found us. He apologized to my grandmother for everything that happened and said all he wanted to do is keep that promise to my mom. So he took me and my two sisters to the USA and we ended up very successful in life.
Carlstadt, New Jersey
I’m 35 years old and I am undocumented. I was born in Peru and at the age of 5 me and my 1 year old brother with my mother arrived in Mexico by plane from Peru but crossed the border of Mexico to America by foot to meet my father who was already in America. He was able to come first by plane to America because he was the only one granted with a visa from Peru but me my brother and mother were not. I have been living in America for over 30 years and undocumented, I am educated here and America is all I know, with me being undocumented I am unable to find work and if I do it’s only for the day or its seasonal and for low pay which makes it impossible to sustain myself and everyday I’m just trying to survive by trying to find work where ever I can. The only one that is living a successful and productive life is my 24 year old brother who was born here who took advantage of the American dream as it is his right to do so as a American, went to college and during that process got cancer, took a year off, beat cancer and bounced right back and finished college and is in Japan to further and advance his degree. So my baby brother is living the life that we should have had but we are all proud of him as he has endured a lot himself in his own life and has channeled our family’s suffering
Somewhere within America
I came here when i was 3 years old. I’m currently 16. Everyone else in my family that is here with me is legal. Everyone but me. I’m close to finishing high school… too close. It scares me to think what will happen once I graduate; I’m scared everyone around me will move forward with their lives and I’ll just be stuck here. I’m losing hope. I love America, this is my home, but this is no way to live. I didn’t choose to be here, they did… and now I’ll have to deal with the consequences.I just want to go to college, study medicine and save lives. Is that too much to ask for? I just want to belong here, I want to be an American citizen.
When I was young I considered myself an American. I ate hot dogs and hamburgers on the 4th of July, and i even have a cousin who served his country in the Iraq war. I am one of five children, of which three are US citizens and two are not. I am not. My parents are not “legal” either. Currently my father is in Mexico after being deported. I live in an area where half of all people are Mexican and half are white. The white residents seem to think that all Mexicans should be deported. This would have terrible consequences for America because nearly all migrant workers, contractors, and people involved in certain industries are illegals. Life for an immigrant is hard. We are often treated poorly and cannot have licenses or other necessities... But still I love America.