Fabiola’s story. Age 28. New York.
Part 2 of a two-part story. This story is self-authored by Fabiola. Read Part 1 here.
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Life in the U.S. hasn’t been easy. I’m now 28. I’ve had to help my mother with my three U.S. citizen siblings. My sister now has a baby. I am single still.
The relationship between my mother and me hasn’t been the ideal one. She and I have had many differences over the years. She never supported me in any school activities. She never understood what problems I had to face with my classes. Since we were always arguing I decided to invest time in school.
If I would’ve been another problem child it would’ve been easy for me to just start giving out problems. I was offered drugs. I could’ve cut school, going out with many boys, but I always remembered her words telling me and haunting me, “If you do something bad it will hurt me because you are my daughter, but you will be the one paying for the consequences of your acts. It’s your life that will be messed up.”
That’s why I decided to stay in school, where I found my support system. Where I knew no one cared who I was or where I was from; where I had grades even better than some people who were citizens. I was offered a scholarship and I won many awards, but I wasn’t able to accept it because I was undocumented.
That’s when I realized there was no future for me.
After graduation in 2004, we received an order from the county office that we needed to move out because my mom owed money and they were evicting us. My uncles, aunt, cousins, my four siblings, my mother, and I were practically on the streets. My uncles, although being my mother’s brothers, didn’t help us. We were on our own.
My mom had already separated from my step-father at the time, but he let us stay in his room. My sister Gaby, 13 years old, Nicole, three years old, and brother Andrew, two years old, used to sleep on the floor with me, while my mother and baby sister Melissa were sleeping on the only bed. All six of us in a small room.
That year my ex step-father had to leave for Mexico because his father was passing away. Once again we had no economic help, so I decided it was time for me to go out and look for a job.
I took a job at the local money transferring shop. They paid me around $3.00 an hour. I worked six days a week, 12 hours a day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but that was enough to buy diapers and medicine for the kids when they used to get sick. I was always pretty much left with little money. It wasn’t much. They paid me $250 per week. A month later a customer saw me and asked what I was doing in that place; that this type of job wasn’t for someone like me. I knew English; I was pretty and talented. I could get something better. They said they were hiring at a real estate agency four doors down. They were looking for someone like me. I went there and that’s when I started a new career. I became a receptionist.
Since then, I’ve been a medical receptionist, a business receptionist, and I took classes to learn how to prepare taxes; although I couldn’t prepare them because I wasn’t able to get my PTIN¹. I’ve learned how to do many services. I did sales. I have done and become many things in life, but never have stability because of those 9 digits I’m missing. I always dreamed of being able to buy a car, to go to school. It took me five years to save for a $2,000 car because I was always using my savings for emergencies. The same with college.
In 2011 I was finally able to go to college for the first time, but I was only able to take two classes because I didn’t have money to pay for the whole semester. The same year I was able to finally buy a car, although I didn’t know how to drive. So I had to leave it parked in front of my house for a long time. Until June 15, 2012. That’s when my life changed. D.A.C.A.² happened.
I have many goals and fears for the future, but there are more goals than fears since I have already spent half of my life here in this country. I call it home now. I love it equally as I love Mexico. I’m tired of being afraid. I have been afraid for too long. I was tired of always losing my job, to see me always trying and never really going anywhere. With D.A.C.A., after 28 years I am finally living.
I think a challenge for everyone is money; although since I now have more opportunities and I’ve already accomplished many, I know there is no economic challenge that I can’t overcome because I’m a dreamer and we make things possible.
I am now 28, and I guess I started living a lot later. My youth is leaving me, and I realize I’m just starting to experience those things you experience when you are 10 years younger than me.
This next semester I’m going to do 15 credits in college. I’m super excited, but now with this whole immigration debate I’m afraid my mother wouldn’t qualify and that scares me.
The reason why I am here and I have kept going is because I am with her, and, even when we are fighting with each other—
She is my mother.
Fabiola lives in New York and is studying to become a Physician Assistant specializing in Pediatrics. This was her story. What’s yours? Join the project and share your immigration story.
¹ Preparer Tax Identification Number
² Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – a memorandum passed on June 15, 2012, it directs U.S. Borders and Customs Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to practice prosecutorial discretion toward some individuals who immigrated illegally to the United States as children.
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.