As proud as I am about my ethnicity—I was born in Mexico—there is only one place that I know as home, and that is the United States of America. I have but a few blurry memories of life in Mexico where I lived until I was 5 years old.
I belong to the group of migrants who came to the U.S. as children with our parents. We believe that something has to be done about our situation, something that will bring good, positive changes for those of us already here and those that are coming, even as we speak.
Not having legal status has shut many doors in my face. At times I have felt unable even to care for myself. If I am unable to work, at least legally, then how do I make a living and not be a burden to others?
Now that I am in college and have been learning about God in depth, I have asked myself what God says about “illegal” immigrants. I used to feel guilty about my situation: God tells us to respect and obey the law but apparently I had done otherwise. But now I know that Jesus himself was a child immigrant. He had to escape and move to another country; otherwise he was going to be killed. God also tells us to help those in need—to aid the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, the poor, anyone who is mistreated. Before, I used to feel very unfortunate and at fault for being illegal. Today I have been drawn to God because of God’s love and grace toward me. I am a person of color. I am a woman. I am poor. I am fatherless. And I am an illegal immigrant. But I am more than that. I am a child of God.
As a student I have been challenged with a little more than those who are U.S. citizens. Even though I have not been able to do many of the things that most students take for granted—such as working, traveling, and getting a driver’s license—I am proud and very thankful to be receiving this higher education. I know that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be and would not trade this experience for anything.
Not one woman in my family has a college degree. Most were stay-at-home mothers, and some were single parents. Everything seemed to be pointing toward that direction for me, as if that was just how life was supposed to be for every woman. But God’s grace allowed me to break this cycle, and I am now close to receiving my bachelor’s degree, and—Lord willing—a master’s or doctoral degree will follow. My illegal status has caused me to be even more amazed at the wonders God can do with one life.
The writer, whose name was withheld for her own protection, was a student at Biola University in California when this article appeared.