Hi, folks,

Here is part II of Angie Sánchez’s “Coming to America Story.”  (Here is part I.)

Enjoy,

Gabacho

Photo Credit: Jonathan McIntosh

Our Coyote

Coyotes are people who smuggle immigrants into this country. They charge about a thousand dollars per person. Unfortunately there are some that are bad people at heart and take advantage of the people that they are smuggling. They are at times left in the middle of the desert. Not all coyotes are the same though, some are good people and although they are violating the law they are simply helping someone get across. Many of them hold regular everyday jobs. Some movies have produced the wrong image about coyotes and all I can say is don’t believe everything you see on television!

My grandma knew people who did this and who at one point had helped her cross. We met up with them at a park. It was a man who met up with us; he was our “contact”. His name was Gerardo. He was a pleasant man with good manners and well spoken. He greeted us with a warm welcome. He then took us to an ice cream shop where we met the family that was going to cross my sister and I and the lady who was going to cross my mom. We paid them $3000 to cross.

Crossing the Border

My sister and I were crossed by two women who were US citizens; they were sisters, along with one of the woman’s two daughters. These women were also coyotes. I knew nothing about them, except for their names, but I have forgotten them. The daughters were natural born citizens and they were brought along simply to make it seem like we were a family coming back form Mexico. Since the two girls spoke English whatever questions the officers asked one of them could answer or somehow distract the officer. While in the ice cream shop we discussed the plan of action. This was that my sister and I were going to pose as the woman’s additional daughters. So that meant that we were given the proper documentation to prove this. However, this documentation actually belonged to someone else. This is what is called papeles chuecos or fake papers.

My mom and I had to be separated to do this and so she went her way and we went ours. I had never been away from my mom before, especially with strangers. That was frightening but I knew that was the only way to be reunited with dad. We kissed our mom good-bye and left with the two ladies. We got into a van and headed to the border. Once in line waiting to cross and in the backseat of the van I had my first English course. One of the coyote’s daughter had to teach me basic English in case the border patrol questioned me. That meant that in matter of 10 or 15 minutes I had to learn what my name was, date of birth, place of birth, age, etc. I had never spoken a word of English except for “okay” or “bye”. I remember the girl who was teaching getting a little frustrated at first because my pronunciation was horrible. I was so nervous and scared because I kept thinking about the officer asking me questions and me not being able to answer him. I was also worried about my little sister, who was quite irritated. She did not feel comfortable being in the arms of a stranger. What child would at the age of 3? I kept telling her to be quiet but the more I told her the more she cried. We finally came to the booth and the officer asked to see all of the passengers’ documents so the woman handed them to him. He took a brief look inside and at the documents without asking us anything. I actually ended up pretending like I was asleep because I kept getting the answers wrong. My sister’s crying played a big role in us crossing without problems. The officer was pretty annoyed by her crying. Once I heard the ladies and the girl sitting next to me say bye I knew we were officially in the US. The girl said to me, “Open your eyes, we made it!”

Cross-posted at My Ongoing Struggle with Misanthropy:  http://jimmygabacho.com/?p=690

Gabacho– according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy– is derived from an old Provençal word “gavach,” meaning a person from the foothills of the Pyrenees who spoke incorrectly. These days, it means “outsider,” somebody who just doesn’t fit in.

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