"Everything was big, everything was tall and shiny. Everything was developed." That was Martha's first impression of the United States. "It was everything I wanted to see in my city."
Martha is from Tampico in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. “My city is very small. It is a port city. We have a beach, it is very nice, it is a beautiful place,” but increasing safety concerns forced her to move out.
Martha arrived in Washington, D.C., in January 2016 for an internship after graduating with a degree in international business. She looks forward to a career in international development, and will eventually return to Mexico 'to help and make an impact.'
I decided to come to the United States because I feel that here there are opportunities to take action... I want to take actions towards the issues that I see in societies.
Before coming to the U.S., Martha had to move within Mexico to a safer town far from the war of drug cartels. “I was not safe in my city. I had to move out and study somewhere else where I could have a normal life. I moved alone because my family had their own business.
The most difficult part was being scared even in the safest areas. I would walk in the streets and still be scared by every noise or suspicious activity. It was hard to get used to it and to understand that I was not in danger anymore.
It is still hard for me to walk at night and feel safe in the U.S. I am scared and I don't know if it is something psychological that I brought with me from my home country.
Nonetheless, Martha feels lucky because she was able to come legally to the U.S. unlike millions of illegal immigrants who face poor, demeaning treatment. “I have seen how illegal immigrants are looked at and treated. It makes me mad because they seem to have no rights. No one should feel worthless.
I hope that women and children worldwide will stop being in situations where they need to migrate. And if they do migrate, I hope it is because they want to travel and see the world, not because they need to escape from economic or safety concerns.”