Making History / Stories / Uncertainty

Laura L.

Laura L, 27, Provo, Utah, Born in Mexico City

laura-lI have lived with so much fear and anxiety since arriving in the States 15 years ago that my condition has now been diagnosed as PTSD. To enter the country, my mother, my two sisters and I walked for a long, hot day with coyote guides from Tijuana. A 12-year-old at the time, I wasn’t scared, just very excited at the prospect of seeing my father again, something I hadn’t done in two years. Once our family was together in South Los Angeles, I began to see that getting here was the easy part, at least compared with the day-to-day uncertainty of being deported, of being separated from loved ones. I couldn’t trust anyone and was especially afraid of the police. All the news about immigrants was that we weren’t wanted, that we were stealing jobs or worse wouldn’t work – always hateful, negative. My parents told me not to listen but it was hard to keep going, to believe that my life had a purpose. They were determined that my future would be brighter so they bussed me to a good high school in the San Fernando Valley and I graduated, battling my fears every day with the guidance of a social worker there.

Mormon missionaries befriended our family and encouraged us to move to Utah. I started taking summer classes at BYU while working the rest of the year to pay for school. Halfway toward earning my BA, I want to work as an interpreter. I met my husband at church. We were both Spanish interpreters there. Now married four years with two children, I want to take advantage of DACA or DAPA, but I’m still fearful that with all the efforts to dismantle the programs, I might expose my family. I couldn’t bear to be separated from my young family or my parents. My husband is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Together we are talking to an attorney about the best course of action.

My hope is to keep my family together and to become documented. I want to be an interpreter in the healthcare field and already intern at a local hospital. After years of living in fear, I’m determined to take a stand – even encouraging my local church to help its largely undocumented congregants. I want to give back to this country, founded as a nation of immigrants. I earn my way, take care of my family and contribute to my community. I’m seeing a therapist about my anxiety, but the best therapy for me is to work for real immigration reform where I’m accepted and valued for who I am.