Hey guys, as I have been promising I wanted to share with you more of my culture and my country. It is only now that I am comfortable with opening up about what my life was as an immigrant. What life is for any immigrant. So let me start by giving you a quick backstory.
I was born in Puebla, Mexico. At the age of five my family migrated to the United States Of America. I spent ten years living in California until my father got sick. My family then had to move back to Mexico where my father passed away. My mother, sister, and I lived in Mexico for two years before my mother decided to risk everything, including her life, to bring us back to what we considered home. I have lived in the states ever since. Now, as short and simple as that explanation was, it wasn’t that simple. But slowly I will tell you piece by piece along with the lessons because so many of the lessons I learned I think can give you a different view to life and success.
We hear on the news so often now how immigrants are hindering the country and it’s growth. This comes from people with such a closed mind. People that only see a problem from one view will always find themselves stuck and pointing fingers. To me these misconceptions hit me deep. Yes, I now have a legal status in this country but I will always consider myself part of the immigrant community. So with so much negative talk about my people I would like to give you a different perspective. Let me share with you the amazing things I gained from being an immigrant.
My parents moved to the States to give us a better life. My mother and father worked so hard day in and day out. Growing up and seeing how hard they worked instilled in me the necessity to work harder than those around me and to not just sail by in life. I am grateful today for having a humble upbringing because having money, success, or opportunities now feel so much better. My goal is to give my family a better life.
Now my faith has always been there. I am named after the virgen Mary after all. However, my faith became stronger when I turned 19 and realized all the dangers and worries my parents had to go through as immigrants. Like driving and praying you would not get pulled over by the cops because you had no license. Or when I had no clue whether I would have the chance to stay in this country. I had nothing, I mean nothing, except my faith. I had faith God would place me in a position to better my life and my family’s.
Something about losing or the possibility of losing everything gives you perspective. On what truly matters, on what a blessing really is. Well that’s exactly what I went through when I was on the verge of getting removed from this country. I truly had to get perspective on what success really meant. Was it millions? Or was it a life where I didn’t have to hide anymore? Where I didn’t have to be afraid or ashamed of where I came from? I had to fight for an opportunity to stay in this country and well, here I am! I know many of my latinos, or immigrants from all around the world, really just want one thing. An opportunity to not hide and be able to speak up. Which brings me to my next point.
After I was on the verge of having to leave this country I knocked on so many doors for help. No one would help me. I saw lawyer, after lawyer, after lawyer and they all wanted to give up. I worked seven days a week, two jobs, and I felt like I was drowning in worry. I had to decide to be something I hadn’t been in a while, cunning. I began to say, ” I will make it happen, no matter what!” I stayed persistent to my goal. I am glad to say I can now live without hiding.
I think it is evident that from having to fight for opportunities to having to grind in the shadows, being an immigrant takes strength. I don’t want people to see us like victims. Or as people who are trying to suck this country dry. We just want an OPPORTUNITY to be treated like everyone else. We don’t want to live in the shadows. With that being said, I think my next point brings light on how much we want to succeed.
I would like you to picture yourself or a loved one in the following scenario. You are walking for days with nothing but water, little bit of food, and a dream. You walk day in and day out non stop. You can’t rest because by staying in one place for too long it puts you in danger. It will allow for snakes, coyotes, or even worse immigration to track to down. You reach the Rio Grande. Its time to take off all your clothes and put it in a plastic bag. You will use this bag as a flotation device because the current is strong. After you cross you put your clothes back on, it’s time to walk for hours in the freezing temperatures of the desert. If everything goes well you get transported to a house where you will sleep on the floor, next to probably 40-60 other people. Back to back like cattle. Then you are held until your family pays your fee. If they don’t, they might kill you, or sell you. Can you imagine that? That’s what immigrants face when they leave their country. Would you be brave to go through that?
It’s interesting to me how people mention immigrants like we are stealing from someone. I was jailed, paid thousands of dollars, and I paid my taxes every year, volunteer all the time, I donate money and clothes to local groups. Yet I am trying to steal? I appreciate the flag and what this country stands for just as much as the next American. My heart broke on September 11, 2001 and every tradegy after that. It cost me sweat, blood, and tears to be part of this country. Trust me, I stole from no one. I gave more and I will continue to contribute to this country.
You see immigrants are just as American as any one else. The problem is that people are not taking the time to analyze the situation from every angle. This country was founded on immigrants trying to better their lives and those of their loved once.
To all my immigrants, you are not alone. Know you are allowed to shine and show the world your talent. Don’t be afraid to succeed.
Chef Eduardo “Lalo” Garcia is a well know chef. Who migrated to the States. After his work became well known he got deported. He now lives in Mexico City and own two restaurants. “Máximo Bistrot” and “Lalo”
Written by: Lupita G.
Tittle picture by:Elias Castillo