My grandmother was brought to this country as a baby from eastern Europe in 1901.
Her mother had to use someone else’s papers to get into the country with her. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago on Maxwell Street which was teaming with other Jewish immigrants.
She went to the Chicago Public Schools until the age of about 16 and ended up starting a small business with her husband who was also an immigrant. The small commercial auction house employed several other immigrants from Poland and Mexico.
Some of the employees worked there for several decades. Income from the business allowed my grandparents to live a middle-class life in Chicago and help send their three grandchildren to college. I am now a high school teacher with a masters in education policy pursuing a PhD in science education. My sister has a masters in social work and manages social work care in a geriatric care community. My brother has a PhD in economics and leads the department of health economics at Rutgers University. Immigrants – they get the job done!
My mother was left taking care of my two sisters all alone with limited English proficiency and no job.
My mother and father immigrated from Peru in the late 60’s/early 70’s. My father spent some time in Florida with his cousins before heading to Chicago. He worked at the Schwin Bicycle factory in Humboldt Park while going to school full-time to become a respiratory therapist.
He worked his butt off and eventually became a respiratory therapist and worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital while raising two daughters. He was an avid runner and would often jog along the lakefront path during his lunch break. One day, while jogging, he had a brain aneurysm and was taken to the nearest hospital (which, unfortunately, was not St. Joseph’s). The hospital couldn’t find his ID (he had special running shoes with a pocket for a key or ID).
He did not come home and my mom grew concerned. It took a week to find him, but eventually she found him. He was in a coma and my mother had to make a decision to keep him on life support or take him off of life support. She made one of the toughest decisions in her life and was left taking care of my two sisters all alone with limited English proficiency and no job. Two weeks later she found out that she was pregnant.
I cannot imagine the fear and hardship she went through during those months and years, but she raised two daughters and a son by herself.
My oldest sister is an occupational therapist, my other sister is a stay at home Mom raising amazing children but worked several years as a teacher and has two advanced degrees, and a son (me) who teaches at one of the best schools in Chicago and is working toward an advanced degree in education.
My grandfather traveled for days hidden in the back of a semi truck often having to drink his own urine to prevent dehydration.
My grandfather Lorenzo came to the Lafayette, Indiana from a small town in Mexico in search of a better life in 1970. He traveled for days hidden in the back of a semi truck often having to drink his own urine to prevent dehydration. He paid a man $400 to secure him a job as a busboy at a restaurant.
My grandmother posed a nurse and was able to obtain a work visa to fly over to the U.S. with a 1-year-old and leaving behind 5 children. A year later, my mother was the first child to be born in the U.S – what a great OPPORTUNITY, right? Not so much. The man who once helped my grandfather secure a job had him and his family deported back to Mexico. My mom who was born in the U.S. eventually helped the family and out from under the rubble of deportation was the opportunity. My mom was able to “sponsor” the family to legally enter the U.S.
I come from a resilient and brave family, so my grandfather and his family made the journey to the land of opportunity once again – this time to Chicago to work in a steel mill. He and my grandmother purchased a 4-unit building on Chicago’s far South Side and little by little all 12 kids made the permanent move to the U.S.
They have all made their own lives. They’ve built their own families and many successful businesses. They have all gone on to have successful and educated children, like myself. I recently received my Master’s degree in Counseling and I owe it to the sacrifices that my grandfather made for our family.
My grandfather and grandmother moved from their comfort zone to an unknown land with an unknown language because they wanted a better life for us. Their sacrifice is worth it. It has to be. My story is so many people’s story. This country is a country of immigrants. THIS IS EVERYONE’S HOME!
My first job was when I was 14 at a local butcher shop.
I am now a teacher. I am 33 years old. I am the son of immigrant families. This is my grandmother. She died in 1992 on January 27th. Her mother’s family was murdered in the holocaust in Nazi death camps. My grandmother and her parents were here, in Chicago. She lived. She had my mother and my aunts and my uncle. I am here. My parents are here. My sister is here. We are alive. We are strong. We will continue to live!
In 2010, I completed my master’s degree in Mathematics.
I was born in Chihuahua, Mexico in October of 1986. Less than a year later, my mother passed.
Trusting grandma to care for his four kids, my dad would make frequent trips to the U.S. My earliest memories of him are of his summer visits. What was planned as a temporary situation went on for years in a failed struggle to obtain legal residency.
In the summer of ’94 my father remarried and decided to make the move permanent. My older brother was first to join him in Chicago. A year later, my sisters, my grandma and I also made the trip with him.
I attended Davis Elementary and Kelly High School, both in Brighton Park. The implications of being undocumented quickly became clear to me as a senior. In the summer of 2004, I was invited to apply to Chicago State University as a founding member of their Honors College with a one semester scholarship. The offer was too good to pass.
Despite many financial struggles, I was able to complete my bachelor’s in 2008 after student-teaching at St. Francis De Sales High School in South Chicago. As an undocumented immigrant I was denied state certification to teach. In the spring of 2010, I completed my masters in mathematics. Still without employment authorization, during this time I worked construction and was employed at Los Delfines in Archer Heights to make ends meet. I also worked as coordinator for the Chicago Día De Los Niños Parade between 2009 and 2011.
At last, in 2012, I was granted employment authorization. I taught GED at Truman College. Then I taught Statistics at St. Augustine College. Since the fall of 2014, I’ve returned to Archer Heights where I now teach 8th grade math.