Migrating was a decision on my own motivated by having a large family. I was a single mother with no job opportunities in Guatemala and wanted my children to be professional workers and get a higher education. These motivated me to go to Los Angeles, California.
Today, I can't say today I'm reacher than when I arrived at the US, but my six children, who all live in Guatemala, have university degrees and have a living wage which allows them to support their families.
I came to this city in 1988. In Guatemala, the economic situation was difficult for a single woman without a higher level of education. To survive with six children, I had no choice but to migrate. The hardest thing was to leave them, to be separated from my family.
I worked for a long time without papers, but I was lucky enough to meet my husband, an American citizen, who supported me in my naturalization procedures in the country. That gave me the opportunity to return to Guatemala to see my children again, but I decided to continue working in Los Angeles because the situation was still the same in my country.
Even having documents, it is difficult to go see my children. Having documents does not mean that I can move when I want, because I must continue to earn my salary. At one point I was paying university studies for three of my children, which required a lot of economic investment. Now I see them every four years.
I am a seamstress in the garment industry, and I think that those who migrate without papers are currently suffering a lot because their work dynamics are added to the fear of deportation. Migrants here get up early, work in a double shift, almost 16 hours a day; they also travel great distances.
These situations should not occur. It is unfortunate that in our countries it is not possible to create better opportunities to achieve a dignified life and the development of families. The people of Guatemala make great economic contributions, both here and in their community, but it is unfortunate that they do not have permits, cannot have better wages.
I did not want my children to become cheap labor for another country, but to be professionals and contribute to their country. With a profession it is possible, but if the governments themselves do not guarantee education, that is where the situation becomes difficult.
New communication technologies have been great tools to feel my kids closer. The Internet was a godsend because in my time, in 1988, when I arrived in America, I could talk with them twice a year; I paid for the calls in several installments since each one was between $200 and $250.
One of my sons works at a government institution and can afford Internet access from home. Now we can communicate with video calls at a reasonable cost every night.
Every afternoon, passing through this place (intersection of Bonnie Brae and 6th Street, Los Angeles, California), I take an atolito de elote. This reminds me of one of the greatest traditions that families have in Guatemala City, also eating an enchilada. It allows me to stay connected with my country and its people.
It was worthwhile to migrate. If once again I had the opportunity to do it to support my children, I would do it again.