Mexican Girl Dreamed of the Backstreet Boys. Not of America.

Facing Immigration in the USA, Immigration

Fabiola’s Story.  Age 28.  New York.

Part 1 of a two-part story.  This story is self-authored by Fabiola.  What’s your story?  Join the project and share.


I didn’t make the decision to come to the U.S.  I am one of those kids who are called Dreamers.

In 1995, tired of being mentally and emotionally abused, my mother decided to look for a better future, so she immigrated to the United States. She left with a neighbor who at the time wanted to be involved romantically with her, but she just wanted to have a better life.  They didn’t have enough money to bring me, so she left me back.  Instead she brought my sister, who at the time was 4 years old.  She’s also a Dreamer.

I stayed with my mother’s mother, and after a month I moved with my dad. Although I was little and just 10 years old, I knew she wasn’t coming back soon and I knew she wasn’t just around the corner.

In the winter of 1999, I was tired of living with my father.  I remember the conversations I used to have with my mother begging for her to come back, that I couldn’t deal with the situation anymore.  I was okay economically since I was the only child at my father’s house, but I didn’t have my mother. I remember many Mother’s Days and many events when I didn’t have my mother with me. Although my father’s mother and my aunt did a terrific job in orientating me and trying to help me and give me attention, nothing compared to my mother’s love.

I remember my mother said she was coming back the week of Christmas, 1999, since people were scared and thinking the world was going to end with the new millennium.  She was kind of afraid, too. One day I received a call from my aunt.  She told me to come over to her house because my mom had sent me some items with someone. She had done it before; she used to send me sometimes sneakers, backpacks for school, candy.  I thought it was weird because she had told me she was coming two weeks later, but I said maybe it’s normal; she will be carrying more stuff so she sent some things earlier with other people.

When I arrived at my aunt’s house I saw a bunch of suitcases everywhere.  My first reaction was like, “WOW!  She did send a lot of stuff!”  Then I saw my cousin pulling a long bag, but it kind of seemed empty but heavy. She pulled it—like sliding it—I saw it moving.  I got a little scared.  I thought it was a dog!  I was trying to think, “Why would my mom ship me a dog?”

All of a sudden I saw the zipper opening by itself and I was in shock.  I didn’t know what was happening.  Then I saw a little chubby girl coming out of it asking me if I knew her.  It was my sister!  She now was 8 years old.  I knew those eyes and smile.  I looked to the kitchen, and there it was; my mother standing in the door.  I ran to hug them and started crying.

It wasn’t easy.  I remember thinking so many times that my problems were going to be resolved as soon as my mother arrived.  But it wasn’t like that.

My mom gave me the news that she now had a relationship with her friend, the same “friend” who she had left with.  I remember how I hated my mother at the time.  Thinking that all those rumors people talked about were true.  She had left me because of a man.  She explained to me it wasn’t true, that she didn’t know what the situation was and that she never wanted to hurt my studies.

But I didn’t want to listen to her explanations.  The point is that she had hurt me.  That there was nothing she could do to give me those 4, almost 5, years away from her.

On Feb 13, 2000, I was once again surprised by my mother.  She told me we were leaving to the United States in two days.  My heart was broken.  I didn’t know what to do.  Was I willing to live without my mother again or leave everything behind for a life I didn’t know anything about? I knew that if I let my mother go I would not see her ever again.  So I left with her with no other choice.

I said goodbye to everything and everyone with no idea of what was going to be there for me.  I didn’t know what undocumented was.  I didn’t know what crossing illegally was.  I just remember all the prostitution and bad people at the border.

Even the way we crossed.  We lasted more than a month at the border.  I remember I had to be separated from my mother at some point, and she was worried.  She didn’t know if we were okay.  I have some blurry memories of that, and, although I was 14, many things were happening on a daily basis.  I just remember listening and dreaming of watching the Backstreet Boys live one day, since I was now going to “move” to the United States.


Tomorrow we will post Part II of Fabiola’s Facing Immigration story on what life is like in the U.S. as an undocumented citizen.

Do you have an immigration story?  Join our project.

This story originally appeared in Facing Stories of Immigration in the U.S., a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by The Facing Project national headquarters.

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