Saturday, June 02, 2007


Buenos Dios! My name is Maria. I live in America, in the United States, in an apartment above a party store, where the rent is cheap. I don't live there alone. Let's see. There's Pepi, Elena, Miguel, Anna, Antonio, Gracie, Roderico, Jose, Philippo, name just a few. We live together and share the expenses.

Seven of the mujers here are pregnant and already there are two newborns. We named them Georgio, after Bush, of course, and Teddie, after Kennedy. We are proud of Georgio and Teddie because they are American citizens. Of all of us, they are the only ones that are legal. So, we bounce them on our knees and say that someday one of them could be president of this great land.

There are other children living here, too. They go to school every day, even though they don't understand the English language yet. The teacher, she speaks some Spanish, but it is so hard for the children to learn to read and write in English.

We are very grateful for our new lives in this wonderful country. I couldn't believe my eyes to see all of the food in the grocery stores. Sometimes I just walk through Walmart and see the wondrous items on display. Almost everything, we are told, comes from China. But they do not buy these things in China, I guess. Only here. This is a great country for a poor Mexican girl.

I came across the border by following a coyote, whom I paid to bring me across. There was a great group of us and, once we crossed, the coyote left and we had to walk. It was a long, exhausting trip in the hot, blistering sun and some of us just couldn't make it. We left them behind and kept walking, knowing they would become just bones bleached white by the sun, their flesh devoured by animals. But we couldn't stop, lest the border guards find us and send us home....or send us to jail.

My name is Maria. But, here, I am known as Georgia Jones. I have numbers I need on a card that I paid to get, and I have a birth certificate, too. I don't know who Georgia Jones might be, but I think of her often and thank her.

We all miss Mexico and write home often, sending money to our relatives there. To them, we are rich, living and working in the Land of Plenty. I tell them of the streets here, all paved, lined with stores and with houses. Oh, the houses! They are big and beautiful, with green lawns and brightly colored flowers. Some of us work in them as maids or gardeners. These people tell us of the fine furniture and fixtures in these homes.

Others among us go every morning to a street corner and wait there. Sooner or later, a truck or van will arrive, the driver seeking workers. We crawl into the vehicles and are carried to the worksites. Sometimes we pick crops. Sometimes we help build houses. Each day, we are paid and driven back to the street corner. Still others among us have jobs in restaurants or stores.

It is said that we are being exploited by employers, who are trying to save money. It is said that employers should pay fines or be imprisoned for hiring us. But we continue to get the jobs. The lust for money is just too important to turn us away.

My name is Maria, but I am just one of millions just like myself, a good person, not a criminal, but one with no future in the country of my birth. Here, I have a future, but I am not wanted by the citizens of this country. They fear we are taking their jobs. They fear they will lose their big houses if they lose their jobs. They say we should not get free health care, since many legal citizens do not have health care at all, nor should our children go to their schools, because of the funding. They fear the formation of a huge voting bloc. They fear the bad people among us, and yes, they do exist. They fear the drug dealers, because they also exist. They want me and all the others, millions of us, to go home. They call us criminals because we crossed that border. They say we had no right to do that.

We have fought back. We have paraded. We have waved our flags. We insist that we have rights, because the American Constitution says all men are equal, even those who speak another language and sneak into the country.

Years ago, when the United States was settled, our land in what is now Texas and other southern states, was taken from us. "Remember the Alamo"....... Americans had this slogan that is repeated to this day. But, what we remember is a ruthless war and the loss of our territory. We don't ask for it back. We ask for the right to stay.

You decide, Americans! No one can do it for you! You can make it impossible for us to stay here, send us home, close that border so tight no one can squeeze across it, or you can allow us to stay. It's up to you! My name is Maria and my future is in your hands.