My boyfriend’s name is Amerigo and is Mexican. Although he lived in the US for most of his life, since he was brought here as a child, he is Mexican all the way, hasta la madre.
My boyfriend doesn’t care to be American or a gringo as he says. But he’s always complaining about his undocumented status of which says he was a victim. He said to live here in the US is like living in a golden prison.
“I live in New York! The city where all Mexicans from Puebla dream of going. Am I lucky? Am I not a privileged? I’m free, I’m fucking free “. He often said it with a smile that looks like a grimace on his face. “In my pueblo we had no water running from the taps and had to walk for hours to get to the first well of drinking water. Should I feel a privileged? “Then he tells me that every time he leaves the water running free for a long time from the shower tap, his mother scolds him. “I don’t give a shit, even though my mother says it’s a waste. Waste of that? It ‘s good to let the water flow, it cleans the pipes. ”
I always get a headache when he tries to explain me his complicated status of legal and illegal at the same time. “I can work, you see? And I pay my taxes, you see… but at the same time, I can’t travel.”
“What does that mean?” I asked him the first time he was referring to the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival), a program created by President Obama to protect some “undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children”. Let’s say one day you decide to travel with me to Italy. Let’s say that there is a beautiful event going on there, like a wedding or something similar, or there is a emergency, you know my parents are getting old …”
“Babe, if I go with you to Italy, the doors of this country will shut down forever for me.”
“That means that they don’t let you in anymore? They cannot, your family is here. ”
“Do you think that officers at JFK Airport would care of it? I already know what would be my fate, if I leave the States and try to come back… A beautiful deportation. Who cares that I spent 3/4 of my life here?”
Amerigo told me one day the way he crossed the border. Crossing the desert wasn’t for him traumatic, but quick and painless.
Everything happened so fast than he didn’t have time to realize what was going on. He was together with his mother, a young woman in her twenties, who had spent most of her life being a housewife, and mistreated often by a man who became violent when he drunk. This man was Amerigo’s father. “My mother” Amerigo told me one day, “had already crossed the desert once, and with me, she crossed it the second time”. The first time Amerigo’s mother made the journey to New York, she disappeared one day from another. Amerigo was 6 years, and his grandparents took care of him. “Your mami is traveling… she will come back”, they said to him. All of it seemed to Amerigo so unbelievable. “Nobody never travelled in my village, how could my mum go to vacation?”. Amerigo told me more than one time that it took to him a big effort to forgive his mother to abandon him. But she was back, that’s the most important thing. She was back for him.
Sometimes, thinking about Amerigo’s mother story, I try to imagine what it was for her to travel by herself through the desert. She wasn’t really alone since her boyfriend – a Mexican boyfriend from the same village who, once in New York, would become violent and repressive – paid her the crossing.
“In the desert was so dark. You could keep your eyes opened or closed. Nothing would have changed”. Amerigo’s mother described with these words the experience of being in the desert.
“My mother and I crossed the border in a privileged way. First class, crossing V.I.P.” Amerigo crossed the border where there was no so much police around. In the meantime people showed their regular passports at the gate, Amerigo, his mother, with other people, not far away from there, were hiding behind some garbage can, and sneaked into the American territories right away. Once in Arizona, they took a flight to New York and nobody checked their documents. Nowadays would be impossible. At JFK they take you finger prints, picture, passport, and other documents. They may bring you into the “white room”. There they open the laptop, and ask you to show them your email, and if you lied, they are going to make a irremovable stamp on your passport. Deported.
“Would you never come back to Mexico? You are free there. There you’d out of this Golden Prison of the States.” I asked him a day.
“Free? How I can be free living in a country where I don’t know anything about it? My Mexico is made by the distorted memories of a child who left it too early to even speak properly the language of his own people? Amor, this Golden Prison is the only place on earth I can call home. Besides everything, this is my real ‘casa’.”