Yearning to be Free: A Journey to America

“Cuando uno sale de su país uno sueña con venir a este lugar;” when you leave your country, you leave with the dream of coming here. The American Dream, the idea of prosperity and opportunity, has been a beacon of hope for many immigrants who come to the United States. For X, an anonymous undocumented immigrant, the dream of having a better life for himself and his family meant leaving his home country of Guatemala and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into the Land of the Free.  

X’s journey from Guatemala to the United States was not an easy one. Currently an undocumented immigrant residing in Florence, South Carolina, the 28-year-old reflected on his trek into America. “It took me one month to get here, and I got here like everyone else I knew – walking or sometimes taking the bus,” said X. “It was a dangerous journey getting to the border because of the corruption and drug trafficking in Mexico.” Once arriving in Mexico, X walked five days and nights through the desert. After being left by his guide, also known as a coyote, he was lost in the desert with no guidance, food or water. “I got to the point where I thought I was going to die,” he said. X was caught by an immigration officer and sent back to Mexico. He was able to find another coyote to transport him to the United States. After another four days and nights in the desert, X arrived on U.S. soil.

The difficult journey was life-changing for X. “What marked my journey was getting lost in the desert when it was 120 degrees. I had nothing. There was no one around me,” he said. However, the opportunities in the United States made the trip worth it; “Coming to the U.S., I am now able to help my mom financially.” X constantly sends money back to his family in Guatemala, and because of that “my family back at home lives a completely different life. A better life.”

Paired with opportunity comes hardships. Being undocumented, X constantly lives in fear that he will be detained. With a wife and two daughters who are dependent on him, he fears he will be ripped away from his family and possibly deported back to Guatemala. “I just live by the rules; Al pie de la letra,” X said, “I make sure I don’t get in any trouble.” One of the big hardships X faces is that he must drive to work everyday. “Driving without a license is illegal here, but I have to risk driving because it is my only option to get to work.”

Hardships have continued with the recent election of Donald Trump. X stated, “ever since he got elected, I have heard of more people getting detained and deported, especially the people who have committed crimes.” In these moments X misses his home country a lot, but he stresses that it is imperative that he remains here in the US for his daughter so she can become a professional. “If I take her back to my country, it would be like cutting a bird’s wings off. I would be throwing her future away,” he said.  Regardless of the current rhetoric that surrounds immigrants, X has pride for this country he has come to call home. “Like I’ve told many people,” he said, “and I’ll keep on saying this: this country is a grand nation. It’s the country of opportunities. That’s why people dream of coming here. This country has given me a lot of big things. I love being here, and if God permits, I will continue to be here.”

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