Build Bridges not Borders

My Journey as an Immigrant

Back to Article
Back to Article

Build Bridges not Borders

The reporter Alondra Castro today. (Nov 28, 2018)

The reporter Alondra Castro today. (Nov 28, 2018)

Christopher Cornejo

The reporter Alondra Castro today. (Nov 28, 2018)

Christopher Cornejo

Christopher Cornejo

The reporter Alondra Castro today. (Nov 28, 2018)

By Alondra Castro, Godinez Fundamental High School

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

From the time I was 3-years-old, when I arrived in the U.S., I knew that I was “illegal.”

I remember the night before we left for the “other side.” My brothers and I slept with our shoes on to get a head start in the morning. At the break of dawn my two brothers, the oldest five, the youngest, a tender one-year-old, and my mom embarked on a life-changing journey.

As we headed for the airport I remember the feeling of sadness that overcame me when I realized it would be a long time before I saw my homeland again.

Before we left home everyone wished us good luck, almost as if they expected the worst. My mother was brave.

And my father tried to remain strong, but his face showed sadness as he hugged his family goodbye, not knowing when we would be together again.

After a week-long journey from my home in Morelia, Michoacan, we finally arrived to Anaheim, California.

Now, I was proud. I understood that I went through an incredible journey which was also traveled by many but I somehow felt unique.

This place was beautiful. I remember seeing the number 55 plastered everywhere, all across Anaheim I saw the number 55. I now know it was because it was the 55th anniversary, at the time, of the famous Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. Every kid wanted to be there, not me. I felt like I was already in the happiest place on earth, the U.S.A.

The experience was fun but I began to miss home. I missed all that I knew.

Despite meeting my mother’s side of the family, who had already established themselves in this country, without my father, my family was incomplete. I missed him.

As a child, this separation was difficult to understand, and in turn, was difficult to deal with.

I asked my mother why we couldn’t just go back for a quick visit then come back to our new home, she replied, “no se puede, hija, no tenemos papeles. We can’t, we don’t have papers,” she said.

Now I understood. I completely understood why my family back home was so sad to see us leave. It was not going to be as easy as I thought. Now, I understood, I was not an American.

I knew that my being in this country was wrong. I had not yet begun to establish myself, or discover who I was, yet I knew that I was a criminal.

Imagine,  a child, who had not yet experienced the things that made life beautiful, knowing that her presence was against the law.

As the years went by, my mother worked to establish my family in this new country.

My mother, being the hard worker that she is, managed three young kids, a job, and even went to school to learn the language and continue to receive higher education. Her hard work made it easier for my brothers and I to live a “normal” life.

As I advanced in school, I began to see how difficult building a better life for myself would be as an undocumented student.

From early in my school career, college was encouraged by our teachers and counselors, so much that it almost seemed like a guarantee, it was motivating, knowing that every one of us could make it there.

Still, I was scared. The next day in this country was never a guarantee. My family could be deported at any moment if anyone should find out our secret.

This is part one of a series of Ms. Castro’s immigration story.

This story was originally published on Grizzly Gazette on November 29, 2018.