In the shadows of the growing hate and immigrant bashing that is engulfing the United States, I quietly celebrated my 40th birthday in August. I, like so many of my immigrant brothers and sisters, live in constant dread and panic, fearing that today, in this current black-hearted hole that we call America, our day will come and we will be caught, arrested, jailed, and eventually deported to some God-forsaken part of Mexico or Central America that we fear will lead to a death. So in this month of my 40th birthday, I thank La Virgen de Guadalupe for watching over me, guiding, and protecting me.
I am still free and alive.
I am a ghost without a home. I am an undocumented immigrant.
In today's Trump America, make no mistake, I am a criminal, an illegal alien who must be hunted down and caged. I have lived in the cold and heartless shadows of this country for more than 33 years, where Father Gregory Boyle reminds us that "on the periphery of humanity, where the pain, suffering, and need is the greatest." The United States, then, has been my purgatory, a place that I desperately want to call home, but I am denied at every turn.
I was smuggled into this country when I was about 7 years old, a child, guilty only of being born to a single mother in desperate need to find a way of keeping her family from starving and the daily violence in her native Mexico. Like so many of the children who were/are smuggled into this country, as we grow into adulthood, we lose most of our connection to Mexico.
This country then pulverizes and mongrelizes us into sub-human status. We all become rapists, terrorists, whores, gang-bangers, leeches. All the while, this nation reminds us every second of our miserable existence that we are not American and never will be.
We can never go "home" because Mexico was never our home. We were just unfortunate to be born in a geographical/political war zone, at the mercy of everyone. We have no real home, and the semi-invisible ghostlike life that we lead in this country is criminalized at every turn.
I have survived 33 years in a country that has denied me the human right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. I can't get a job legally. I can't get into college legally. I can't vote. I can't call the cops. I am easily reduced by politicians and fearmongers to a statistical anomaly, a political talking point, a savage criminal, a pathetic scapegoat. Periodically, I am hunted, rounded up, arrested, and thrown into cages, made a prisoner of a society that I have served faithfully in my adulthood.
In this schizophrenic and hypocritical land of laws (for some), I must have legal "papers" to breathe freedom openly. Perversely, in order to have legal "papers," I must somehow wipe away all of my 33 years of illegal existence in this country and return to a foreign and foreboding Mexico and pray for celestial intervention that I live long enough to complete the impossibly arduous process of legal immigration and re-entry into the United States, my estranged home of 33 years.
How surreal is that?
Today, worldwide, there are millions of migrants (I am one of them) traversing the globe, seeking a country that will provide the peace, compassion, love, and refuge from the violence, starvation, war, hatred, and persecution that we are all desperately trying to escape. The journey that each and every one of us migrants takes happens when all of the other options have been exhausted, and there is no other choice.
"¡Al camino o muerte!" The road or death.
That is what my mother did; that is why she smuggled me into this country 33 years ago; and that is why I am alive today to celebrate my 40th birthday. One day before I die I hope that this country, my home, my country will see the tragic error of its current inhumane immigration policies and transform itself back into the world's beacon and a refuge for those persecuted and huddled migrant masses that yearn to be free. Δ
Adelita de los Milagros wrote to New Times under a pseudonym for obvious reasons. Send your response for publication to firstname.lastname@example.org.