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On Immigration and Opportunity

Interview with Silvia Soto, edited by Carmen Cruz

Published October 5, 2018

I would definitely feel like I hit the lottery!

Because education is expensive you know the books and everything, lunch you know everything so this would be awesome.

Well to start with. I didn't know anybody. Like I said, they opened that wire, it was cut. Because you know, back then it was a chicken wire. So I ran through it, I took it. I didn't know anybody. And I'm first generation. Now it's different the wall it's higher. You know like Trump says, make it even higher. Like double the size or whatever the length. But back then, I went now knowing people. So, I went knocking at people's houses and asking them, do you need somebody to clean your house? Would you like me to cook for you because you know, growing up that's the first thing my mom taught me: how to cook, how to clean and so I am self sufficient.

So when I crossed the border, I thought, well I could cut the grass, I can trim trees because I grew up in a ranch. I'm used to animals too. Feeding them.  Like horses, taking care of them. And, that helped me to because I worked at a ranch in Lockeford.

That helped me too because I needed to have something to fall on. It wasn't education then. Now I'm educated. I got my AA in Psychology, I'm going for my mental health and substance abuse certificate. So I got degrees but back then I didn't have. It was just whatever I knew what to do: like babysitting, cleaning houses, cooking for people. 

People ripped me off because I did not have my citizenship. So they would take my money. They would (threaten with) calling "la migra" so I'm gone. Who know what I mean? I mean, I had to take off. I wasn't going to stay there and wait on the police and be deported.  

My first seven years I did not have any children of my own so I worked and helped my family in Mexico. I sent money. A lot of Mexican people do that. They save money and send it to their families in Mexico for food, for paying the bills, for whatever is needed. Some of our relatives are sick so we gotta help pay. Whatever, cancer, treatments. And I had to be giving out money. It made me strong. It didn't kill me.

I didn't want to be seen. You know what I mean? I would just go do it and then I'm out, you know peace. And then this lady comes to me, I'm cleaning the toilet and she starts asking me, hey, I would like to talk to you. I'm thinking, oh my God, what did I do? And I'm thinking I need to get my stuff. I'm used to people ripping me off. Cleaning and whatever and they keep my money. Working in the fields, because I did that too. So I started getting my cleaning stuff to put it away.

And then she says, no, no don't worry, we would like to help you. Do you have papers? Do you have your alien card or green card? And I thought can I trust you? And I was like, I don't want to talk about this. And back then my English wasn't that good. It was with an accent deep. And she was c'mon tell me, do you have paperwork? And I was like no. And I'm thinking I'm getting fired. Because they can get sued, for having somebody that doesn't have any paperwork, citizenship or whatever. So she starts telling me we're going to help you. We're going to pay for all your citizenship cost. And I started crying and I was like, oh my God, thank you.  Because all that time, I was running. I was running for people not to deport me. The reason why I crossed the border was to be able to help my family back in Mexico and to help me. And now I have children. I got four. And they are all from here. Citizens. Back then I thought this was for my future. When I have my own children, I want them to have a better life. I bettered myself by getting my degrees, citizenship and getting naturalized. I'm very thankful, I'm grateful that I had people that helped me, that guided me and I thank the Lord for that.

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