George grew up in a large city in Mexico. When he was 17 years old he moved in with his girlfriend; they had a child together. He soon got into trouble for using drugs and ended up going to jail. George's girlfriend left him, and he soon became involved with another woman and had a child with her. "I continued using drugs so she soon left me as well. At that point I realized my life was very empty and didn't know what else to do. I turned to the church that was around the corner from where I lived and my life began to change for the better. Little by little I learned to be honest. I stopped using all substances and started to read my Bible often. My relationship with my mother improved, even though she was very bitter for all of the things I had done in my past."
"Several years after my recovery I decided to immigrate to the United States, because I still didn't have a good future living in Mexico." One of George's friends invited him to come to United States. George sold all of the tools he owned for construction and carpentry work and also borrowed about $3,000 in order to cross the border. "We crossed the border at night and had to cross a mountain. On the other side a truck was waiting for us. When I first arrived I had to stay on the floor of my friend's place for many weeks, since I couldn't afford to live elsewhere. I immediately started looking for a job, although it was hard because I didn't have any documentation and couldn't speak English. I would just walk around asking people for a job, but no one could understand me. So many times I remember going hungry, with often a day or more before I had something to eat. What worried me the most was the money that I owed my family and friends back home."
"What helped me the most was my faith. I never let go of my Bible, which I still read every day. When I found my current church, people were very helpful and very caring and loving. They treated me like a human being. Since then I've been able to get two jobs. I don't own a car, yet my two jobs are back to back with only 30 minutes between each other. Since the bus doesn't coincide with my schedule, I have to throw my stuff in my backpack and run 20 minutes to my next job."
"I am making ends meet at this point and have been able to pay the debt I owed back in Mexico. I've also been able to start sending money to my family, my mother, and my two children. What upsets me the most is that I always have to be alert. If I see a police car or policeman, I have to either stop what I'm doing or hide. My dream is that I would be able to bring my family to America to live or that I'd be able to return and start our own little business. I just want a nice family life. I hope that Americans could see that all I'm interested in is just working. I don't use substances or harm anyone. I'm just here to work."
Juan Daniel Espitia is a pastor in Solana Beach, California.
This account is taken from Voices of Immigration, a campaign of Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR) aimed at highlighting the stories of immigrants in our country. Believing that every person is made in the image of God, we seek to restore the human element to the conversation around immigration reform. Each day this week a new story will be highlighted on God's Politics, with additional ones posted throughout March at CCIR's Web site: www.faithandimmigration.org.