An immigrant woman's testimony, as told to Juan Daniel Espitia, a pastor in Solana Beach, California.
I come from a large city in the northwest of Mexico; there were six of us children. When one of my brothers became involved with drugs, he started selling a lot of our possessions and even the house to pay for his addiction. During the same time my father, who was an alcoholic, got very sick. Even though I had already finished nursing studies at university, a friend of mine suggested to my mother that they should let me come and work in the United States. The idea was that I would be able to work for a short time and save up enough money to help my family and then return to Mexico.
During the trip up north, we had to spend a few weeks in hotels just to wait for the best time to cross the border. When we were finally able to come across, we found our way to a citrus farm where one of our friends had a contact. We had nowhere to live, so we just ended up sleeping under the trees and using cardboard as beds. Since we had no money yet, we had to eat anything we could find -- mainly oranges and anything people gave us. We were eventually able to move into a nearby trailer on the farm.
The foreman asked me to work for them by cooking every day. I remember one night he came to my trailer very drunk and then raped me. He told me that since he had allowed me to live in the trailer and had given me a job, he could do whatever he wanted with me. He continued to rape me many times after that. It was the most terrible experience in my entire life. I felt alone, dirty, ashamed, and trapped. Then one day immigration officials came to the farm and we were all deported back.
After returning to Mexico, I had no money or possessions and realized that I was two months pregnant. I was able to reach my friend who had originally helped me and she was able to help me cross over to the United States again. At one point during the trip I had to jump over a very high fence, and even though I was concerned about my losing my child, I thought that perhaps it would be for the best. I thought that if this baby died, it wouldn't have to suffer as much as I had. I was able to find work again after crossing the border, yet despite that I was extremely sad and depressed and would cry every day for hours.
It was then that I decided to end my life. I didn't want to suffer anymore and didn't want the baby to live like I had. There was no reason to live. So I went to a bridge over a freeway and was getting ready to jump when I felt this strong and powerful wing pushing me back. I then woke up and realized what I was doing and stopped. I went to a church where they provided me with support, and I was able to have my baby.
Life was still hard, as my baby was very sick for the first two years of her life. She was always in the hospital with all different types of illnesses. Under those circumstances, I prayed to the Lord and I asked, "Please just take her, since she is suffering so badly." My prayers were heard because that night was a turning point where her health became better and better. I love her so much and she is the most powerful thing in my life.
At this point I was focused on getting a good job, although it was hard since I didn't speak English. But I have been working hard to improve my situation and feel like I can give a better life to my child. Financially I need to work quite a lot but we are stable. What does frustrate me is that I constantly feel like I have to live in the shadows unknown, because I'm still scared that I will be caught and sent back to Mexico. I do wish the best for my family and for America. I only want my children to have an education and for them to work in a safe and honest environment. And I wish for us all to continue holding on to God and the Bible because that is the only thing that has kept on encouraging and helping me.
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.