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Immigrant Diaries: The Life Of An Immigrant Child


Jackie Beltran


"Shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" Mic. 6:7



She was using the pay phone when I pulled into the parking lot.  She replaced the receiver and tried three more times.  I pulled along side her and smiled, "Can I help you?  Are you having car trouble?"

She was scared - really scared.  The child with her was at least six years old and at 1 p.m. should have been in school.  She looked at me, her son, the highway and nodded, trembling and jerky as she clutched a small bag of groceries.

"Can you take us home?" she asked. 

"Sure.  Which direction do you live in?"

"It's that way," she said and pointed. 

I asked her name and where she was originally from.  She explained that she was from Guatemala.  I asked about her son's age and she proudly responded, "He is six years old."

"Why isn't he in school?  Do you need help because I can help you if you want?"  I already knew this would be a difficult case.

"No, no!  I'm leaving tomorrow.  We're going to Florida to work.  The nursery work is almost finished."  Her voice was shaking as she spoke.

"You don't want him to go to school?" I shrugged as I said it.

She hesitated before she replied, "If we're deported, he'll be abandoned.  I'll lose him forever."  Then she finished firmly, "He stays with me."

We talked about the crops and which state she preferred then I revisited the dilemma of education.  "Where was he born?"

"He's American - born in Florida," she said proudly as if it were a true gift and accomplishment. 

Gently but firmly, I said, "He needs to be educated."

Jackie Beltran Shares...

Immigrant Diaries is a way to communicate observations so few citizens realize or experience in their daily lives. In order to form an educated opinion it is necessary to hear all sides to an issue and spend the necessary time in reflection. For that reason Immigrant Diaries exists.   Immigrant Diaries are true, first person accounts of the author's experiences. Names and other identifiers, including the author name, are changed to protect identities.
 The Life of an Immigrant Child is an oft-repeated occurrance across this nation - especially with the current political views and sometimes fanatical actions of both pro and anti-immigrant factions in the United States.  Those who suffer the most, those without a voice and those rarely considered as factions scream, are the children who find themselves hidden, along with their parents, on the fringes of society. These are OUR children - an increasingly important part of the future of OUR country.