My father is an immigrant. He crossed the Mexico/US border as teenager, on his own, to find another life. My father is from a small, rural, town in Mexico. We live in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country. The Second Largest City in the Country. His town’s population hovers around 1,000 people. Los Angeles’ population hovers around 3.5million.
Can you even imagine the difference? My high school had a population of 5,500 students. My freshman class, at 1,500 students, was larger than his town’s population. But don’t worry. My senior graduating class magically pared down to half of his town’s population to 500.
I could tell you about MY memories from the first time I visited Mexico, the first time we traveled to his town. But I’d rather not. I’d rather focus on my dad.
Can you imagine being 18 and leaving your town, your state, your country, your mother, your brothers, your sisters, your father, your mother tongue, your culture, your identity, your pride…All behind?
Can you imagine jumping on trains, finding a way across the desert, finding a way across. Across. A hostile crossing.
Can you imagine –
so Painful that it cuts into your being,
cuts you down.
Every rejection, every categorization, every generalization,
Every Migra Threat.
Fear so cold that it freezes your blood on its tracks.
Fear like an ice pick piercing your heart.
Fight or flight.
Can you imagine ignoring both and choosing instead to
Keeping your head down. Smiling. Paying taxes. Ignoring condescension.
So that one day you would have children, your own family, and hope to –
To believe that they could break the chains of fear because they Did Not Belong to
Anyone but America.
America the Free.
And they came, and they came, and they came, and they
Will Continue to Come
whether you care for it or not.
Whether you care for it or not.
They will come. As you did.
And they will borne others like Me.