As a child, I always heard the words coyote, immigrant, Immigration, and I.C.E get thrown around here and there between my family. I never really knew what they meant, but as I started to grow I started to pick up on the meaning of these words. I first learned what coyote meant when my dad got deported and my brother started talking to me about a coyote, and how he was going to bring him back, and he explained to me at that point, that it wasn't the animal but instead it was a person. A person whose job was to bring in illegal immigrants into the country. When I learned about the word Immigrants, it was not in context to Mexicans, or Hispanics, but the Jewish, they were a group of people that went from one country to another country in pursuit of a better life. The word Immigration was thrown around a lot between my parents, it seemed like my dad was actually afraid of them, they tried to shelter me from that part of our lives and what that word meant. But around this time I was old enough to piece one and one together, also the internet was now at my fingertips. I learned that Immigration was just another form of saying I.C.E for my parents. I was eventually old enough to figure out my family are illegal immigrants, and I too lived a couple of years of my life believing that I was also an immigrant.
I saw my brother struggling to pay his college classes, but in school, I learned about something called financial aid. I asked him “Don't you have financial aid”. His face turned into a volcano steam blowing out from his ears and his face spewing hot red lava, and he yelled at me to get out of his face. Later that night my mom explained to me that he doesn't have financial aid because he's undocumented, and undocumented students cannot apply for financial aid. I asked her if I too would have to worry about paying for college like him. She explained that I wouldn't have to worry so much about paying for college since I was an American citizen. American citizen, those two words rung in my head as if they were gongs, loud and gold, like a golden ticket into anywhere my little mind desired to go. When I was 8 years old I associated the words illegal immigrant with my identity, and as children we asked stupid questions that taste like malic acid to our parents. I asked my mom “Is that why he doesn't like me”. At the time it was a simple question that i thought had a simple response. My mom never answered the question she left it at that before telling me to go to sleep for school. All I could think about that night was the fact that I was an American citizen.
My first 7 years I lived life without an identity or a label. At 8, I labeled myself as an illegal immigrant as if it was just nothing but a label that says “Hi my name is” except this one said “Hi I'm a/an…” mines said “Illegal immigrant.” But at 10 my mother rubbed off those words and wrote “American Citizen”. I went on, and as I grew I heard; saw all these opportunities that only I had in my family. I saw the great things that these opportunities could enable me to do. Such as financial aid, college, studying abroad, going back and forth the borderline anywhere without having to worry about getting back into the United States. I didn't really think about these things until high school, where they push college on us. Before college was just a thought but when I think back to my brother, college rings in my head just like the words American citizen rung.