To My Immigrant Mother
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Politics and Activism

To My Immigrant Mother

Thank you for your sacrifices and hard work.

To My Immigrant Mother
Vanessa Bonilla

In honor of #DayWithoutImmigrants, this letter is for all mothers of all ethnicities who have been nothing but selfless, hard working, strong and dedicated to making a better life for their families.


I know it wasn't easy, leaving your home country. Leaving behind your family, friends, neighbors and all you have ever come to know. Your journey to the United States was remarkably war-like. From traveling to adapting to your new surroundings, you were scared, tired, hungry, with little knowledge of what to expect next. Yet, you never turned around. When you finally made it on American soil, you felt more scared than ever. You knew little to no English. You worked low paying jobs. You put up with degrading looks from others who passed you. You struggled with daily encounters of street/ traffic signs and distant chatter in a language that made no sense to you. You had no option but to pay close attention to the behavior of others in order to adapt.

I remember you telling me about your first time eating on the Ride-On bus; you opened a bag of chips and proceeded to eat them. You kept hearing the driver say something aloud but not understand it. You had absolutely no idea he was talking to you. The passenger next to you was kind enough to translate the bus driver’s commands for you. You told me how embarrassed you felt, that was when I came to realized the innocence behind the true immigrant. You did not come here with the intention to "take jobs" or to be "rapist and criminals". You came here in hopes of fleeing the oppression and violence in your home country. Just like the first colonists did as they migrated to escape the Europeans, you are no different. Please do not let anyone make you feel guilty for doing so. You worked hard to meet your goals. I remember when you were studying to become a citizen. I often times get emotion as I think back to those days. You work Monday through Saturday. Your only day off is Sunday, which you spend cleaning and cooking and making sure the house is still in tact. While you cleaned you played the DVD's on American history that you needed to know in order to pass. I used to laugh as you tried to pronounce words like "colonies" and "amendment". You failed the first time you went to take the test, it truly hurt me to watch you cry as you walked out in disappointment. You continued to study hard, and you passed the second time around. The relief in your eyes was overwhelming. I wondered why this meant so much to you, I now understand it was because of me.

When dad was forced to leave because of the immigration laws, you began to worry if they would also make you leave and what would be done with me. You have given me and my siblings everything, and you still do. Mom, thank you. I argue with you over meaningless things. I forget I have always been your priority. You are the reason I have had the chance to do the many things I have. Mom, you are in no way a criminal to me. You are my hero, and what inspires me to be the best I can be and to never let anyone walk over me.

Te amo, Mami.

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