As a child, my mom had dreams of her own. She loved being the center of attention and would perform in school plays and sing her heart out at family gatherings. Her dream was to be a teacher one day, but her family's economic situation changed all that. Early on in life, she learned about the preeminence of money and social status. By the time she was 5 years old, she was already selling oregano and yerba buena herbs in her neighborhood to help the family make ends meet. She became a businesswoman out of necessity and once she earned her college degree, she opened up a small private kindergarten school in her family home. My mother was the model citizen, but Peru is no America. Back then and even now, you have law school graduates working as taxi-drivers.
In Peru, you didn't have to be a citizen to have an opportunity at success, you had to be the son of an upper class elite, the inheritor of colonial legacies of feudal exploitation. My mom, along with other working class youth weren't struggling to access the opportunities, there simply was no future for them. Confronted with this hopelessness and with the opportunity to reunite with my father in America, my mother decided that she wouldn't allow me to live the same hopeless life. The road ahead was daunting and uncertain. She wouldn't know the language and wouldn't be able to obtain a visa, so we would have to cross unknown lands on foot, leaving behind her family, friends, home, and in all likelihood, her chance of achieving the dreams she had as a child, just to come to America.
And so my mom became a second class member of a new society, not much of a difference from her Peru, except this time there was a hope that her children wouldn't have the same fate. My mother was the Dreamer of a past generation. Her dreams, along with the dreams of countless other mothers and fathers of undocumented youth in this country have gone unfulfilled and have been long forgotten in the long hours spent kneeling down cleaning toilets or picking fruits in the scorching sun. Dreams that are destined from the beginning to be just that, dreams.
I wonder sometimes, if any of these politicians, that hold the power to decide my family's fate, would have the courage to cross 7 countries, led only by a stranger with no kind of technology or advisers, just uncertainty and fear? Would politicians risk their lives and leave their mothers, brothers and personal hopes behind to live in the shadows with the dim hope that a distant future could be better? If everything they have was taken away from them and they ended up in my mom's situation at 21 years of age, would they still think and say the things they say? I think not, their biggest fears only consist of not losing their comfortable seats and positions of power. And they pawn off what they know is right in their hearts. They could learn a lesson in courage from my mother.
A wise man once said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice". I know that day will come when we finally adjust our status, and I am looking forward to it. I wonder if then, when some Dreamers are elected into office and are sitting next to that politician, in old age, would they be able to look at us in the eye and refer to us as an "illegal"? I can only wonder.
All the while, other people will continue to argue that my mom should just go back and fix her own country, but how can they when the CIA along with other US funded, puppet right wing governments, and US corporations have violently suppressed attempts at real change for the working poor. Those same politicians that privately funded these wars and governments are the same politicians that are using our people as scapegoats for societies' problems, when they played a hand in forcing our families to migrate here to the US. Call my story a sob story, but it's MY story, and my reality. I will defend it.
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