Artists at Jolt in Austin, Texas create a Mother’s Day live mural to honor immigrant moms. Source: Jolt
By Viridiana Sanchez
Mother’s Day is a big deal in my family. We go to church in the morning, spend the day reading letters to my mom, and in the evening, we have a nice dinner.
But this year is going to be different because there is fear in my heart. Earlier this week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB4, which bans sanctuary cities in the state. This makes me fear that one of these days my mom is going to go to work and never come home.
My mom is an immigrant from Mexico. She came to Texas when she was 25 years old. My dad and my little brother came to the U.S. first. My mom and I came later–we crossed the border together when I was just 5 years old. We walked along train tracks to get to Texas, just the two of us. It was a tough journey, but I am glad we’re here.
I love my mom, Alma, so much. She is an amazing mom. She’s always taking care of me and my brother. She goes to our school to check on our grades, and she always reminds us that we are immigrants and that and that we have to do our best in school to show people that we are like anyone else in this country. She’s strict but encouraging. When our grades drop she tells us, “You don’t want to be washing bathrooms like I am. You want to do something great in your life.” I really like that about her–she motivates us to do good things. I love my mom so much, and I appreciate everything she has ever done for me and my brother.
My mom immigrated here because she wanted to give me and my brother a better life. She was afraid of violence and gangs and didn’t want us to grow up in that environment. She left everything she had behind to give us a brighter future.
In Mexico, my mom was a teacher. She worked as an elementary school teacher, but after getting her master’s degree in teaching, she taught all grades. She is a brilliant woman who worked hard to get her degrees. And she came to Texas knowing that she would have to give up her career.
Without papers, she can’t work as a teacher. The first job my mom had here was cleaning houses. She was paid very little, and her employer abused her. My mom still cleans houses but for a different employer. I know it’s not easy, and I know she does it for me and my brother so that we can have food on our table every day.
My mom left so much behind just so that my brother and I could have a better life. It’s amazing how a mother could do that, and I am so grateful. Her sacrifice makes me want to work hard in school. I want to graduate, go to college and do as much as I can to let her know that her sacrifice was worth it and that she was right to bring us here.
If my mom was deported and didn’t come home one day, it would be the hardest day of my life. Not having my mom to care for me and my mother and encourage us would be devastating. I can’t imagine my life without my mom. She is the center of my universe.
And I am not alone. Here in Texas, there are hundreds of thousands of kids just like me and my brother living in fear that we could be separated from our moms at any moment. That’s not right. I wish that the lawmakers who voted for SB4 and Governor Greg Abbott would think about kids like me and the fear we have that our families will be torn apart, that any day my mom could go to work and never come back.
Just like in past years, this Mother’s Day I am going to celebrate my mom by writing her letters and giving her flowers. I am going to cherish every moment that I have with her. But I am also going to recommit myself to taking action and organizing my community to help end SB4 and protect my mom and other immigrant moms like her. I will not forget those who are trying to separate my family. And I will never stop fighting for my mom.
Viridiana’s story comes to us from Jolt: a Texas-based multi-issue organization that builds the political power and influence of Latinos in our democracy. It was written for their live mural event “Poderosa,” honoring immigrant mothers, and was produced on May 11th, 2017.